Digital Version of November/December 2014 Print Edition
TSA denies reports of agents cursing deaf Louisville passenger
TSA strongly defended itself against charges that its agents at the Louisville International Airport in Kentucky called a deaf man names or stole candy from him.
The agency said on July 12 it had reviewed over a hundred hours of surveillance video from the three-day period earlier in the month in which the incident allegedly occurred and couldn’t find any scenes that matched the report.
“TSA takes allegations of misconduct seriously,” said “Blogger Bob” Burns on the TSA Web blog page on July 12. “TSA has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind,” he said.
The alleged incident turned up in a passenger’s Tumblr blog post that said TSA agents at the airport laughed at him, called him a “fucking deafie,” and stole candy from him. The blog post was written by a man returning from the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) conference held in Louisville July 3-7. The poster, who hasn’t been named, eventually blocked access to his post, because, according to Boing Boing, he didn’t want “negative consequences for himself and other people with disabilities.”
The man complained TSA agents mocked him for being deaf, confiscated candy claiming he couldn’t fly with it and ate it while he waited in the security line. The report went viral on the Web, with many sites picking up the post verbatim, generating reader outrage.
“Make no bones about it — she was facing me and I read her lips,” he said of the TSA agent’s name-calling in his post. “There was no mistake. I would later find out that they had called at least 4 other individuals the same thing.”
TSA was adamant in its response that nothing of the kind occurred, saying an investigation showed its agents acted professionally. “When TSA found out the NAD conference was coming to Louisville, TSA reached out to NAD and other members of its disability coalition while Transportation Security Officers at SDF received additional training on screening deaf passengers from local experts in the field,” said Burns.
The agency “immediately” followed up on the complaint, launching an investigation, including a review of more than 120 hours of CCTV footage from a three-day period to look for any scenes that matched the information in the blog post, he said. The Louisville airport has only one checkpoint and officers are aware that screening operations are under constant video surveillance, he said.
“A close examination of the video during this timeframe indicates that officers working the checkpoint were professional and appropriate with all passengers,” he said.