New TSA pat-downs a touchy subject with travelers

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SALT LAKE CITY - The Transportation Security Administration is warning local police about its new airport pat-down procedure.

At issue, the more invasive pat-down could cause some passengers to report what happened to authorities.

It isn't exactly clear where and how TSA screeners will touch passengers under the new pat-down procedure.

But the TSA's own website notes officers can use the back of their hands to pat down what it calls "sensitive areas" of the body.

Similar pat-downs with the front of the hand may also be done on what the TSA calls "limited cases."

The new procedure replaces five different kinds of pat-downs previously used.

Here's how the TSA describes its pat-down procedures online:

Pat-down procedures are used to determine whether prohibited items or other threats to transportation security are concealed on the person. You may be required to undergo a pat-down procedure if the screening technology alarms, as part of random or unpredictable security measures, for enhanced screening, or as an alternative to other types of screening, such as advanced imaging technology screening. Even passengers who normally receive expedited screening, such as TSA Pre® passengers, may at times receive a pat-down.

A pat-down may include inspection of the head, neck, arms, torso, legs, and feet. This includes head coverings and sensitive areas such as breasts, groin, and the buttocks. You may be required to adjust clothing during the pat-down. The officer will advise you of the procedure to help you anticipate any actions before you feel them. Pat-downs require sufficient pressure to ensure detection.

TSA officers use the back of the hands for pat-downs over sensitive areas of the body. In limited cases, additional screening involving a sensitive area pat-down with the front of the hand may be needed to determine that a threat does not exist.

You will receive a pat-down by an officer of the same gender. TSA officers will explain the procedures to you as they conduct the pat-down. Please inform an officer if you have difficulty raising your arms or remaining in the position required; an external medical device; or areas of the body that are painful when touched. You may request a chair to sit if needed.

At any time during the process, you may request private screening accompanied by a companion of your choice. A second officer of the same gender will always be present during private screening.

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