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"Racial profiling alleged at Boston airport, report says"
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Racial profiling alleged at Boston airport, report says
The Associated Press
NEW YORK - Transportation Security Administration officers at Boston's
Logan International Airport are alleging that a program intended to help
flag possible terrorists based on passengers' mannerisms has led to rampant
racial profiling, a newspaper reported Saturday.
The New York Times reported on its website that in interviews and internal
complaints it has obtained, more than 30 officers involved in the "behavior
detection" program at Logan contend that the operation targets not only
Middle Easterners, but also passengers who fit certain profiles -- such as
Hispanics traveling to Miami, or blacks wearing baseball caps backward.
The TSA told the newspaper on Friday that it is investigating the officers'
claims. At a meeting last month with the agency, officers provided written
complaints, some of them anonymous, from 32 officers.
The officers said their co-workers were increasingly targeting minorities,
believing the stops would lead to the discovery of drugs, outstanding arrest
warrants and immigration problems, in response to pressure from managers who
wanted high numbers of stops, searches and criminal referrals, The Times
"The behavior detection program is no longer a behavior-based program, but
it is a racial profiling program," one officer wrote in an anonymous
complaint The Times obtained.
The program, which has been billed as a model for other airports across the
country, is intended to allow officers to stop, search and question
passengers who seem suspicious. Specially trained "assessors" observe
security lines for unusual activity and speak individually with each
passenger, looking for inconsistencies in the passenger's responses to
questions and behavior such as avoiding eye contact, fidgeting or sweating.
Passengers considered suspicious can be taken aside for more intensive
At least one passenger has filed a formal complaint with the TSA. Kenneth
Boatner, a black psychologist and educational consultant who was traveling
to Atlanta on business last month, said he was detained for nearly half an
hour as agents examined his belongings, including his checkbook and his
patients' clinical notes.
In an interview with The Times, Boatner said he felt humiliated, and that
the officers never explained why they were singling him out, but he
suspected it was because of his race and attire. He was wearing sweat pants,
a white T-shirt and high-top sneakers.
"I had never been subjected to anything like that," Boatner said.
The TSA said the program at Logan "in no way encourages or tolerates
profiling," and that passengers cannot be subjected to behavior assessments
based on their nationality, race, ethnicity or religion.
"If any of these claims prove accurate, we will take immediate and decisive
action to ensure there are consequences to such activity," the agency said
in a statement.
The TSA said it did not compile information on passengers' race or ethnicity
and could not provide a breakdown of passengers who may have been stopped on
either basis through the program.
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