Scanner To Aid Customs Searches

Scanner To Aid Customs Searches
Posted by FoM on November 22, 1999 at 17:35:40 PT
By Charlie Wojciechowski
Source: MSNBC
A new high-tech X-ray machine at O’Hare International Airport could mean the end of controversial strip searches. The new body scanner allows U.S. Customs agents to search female passengers without having to pat them down.
Unit 5 first broke the story of controversial strip searches at O’Hare in March 1998. The U.S. Customs Service has been hit with several lawsuits over them.  On Monday, Customs officials unveiled the new body scanner, which allows people to be electronically searched without being frisked. The new device acts like a giant set of X-ray glasses, able to check under travelers’ clothing looking for things like drugs or weapons.  The machine and others like it in New York and Miami are not designed to replace controversial body cavity searches.  “This just takes the place of a pat down,” said Customs officer Bill Desmond. “If someone doesn’t want to be touched by an officer, they can opt for this.”  According to Customs officials, that accounts for 95% of all secondary searches.  “This machine does not look into the person, so it’s conceivable that you may have a more intrusive search even after going through this machine,” said Customs Commissioner Raymond Kelly.  With the new hardware there is a new attitude that includes sensitivity and cultural diversity for Customs employees. The plan comes in the wake of allegations of racial profiling of African-American travelers.  “I am delighted with the idea that there is a need for sensitivity training, for cultural awareness training, for supervisory training,” said U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-7th District).  Chicago’s new Customs Port Director Robin Dessaure says travelers should not mistake that for a kinder and gentler Customs Service. The agency, she said, is still committed to stopping drugs at the border.  “But we can still do it and be more sensitive to answering people’s questions and explaining the process to them,” Dessaurre said.   Since the changes were ordered, Customs has asked travelers to fill out comment cards. So far in Chicago, 440 people have responded, with 80% of the responses being positive, according to Customs officials.Web Posted: November 22, 1999  NBC Channel 5 Chicago Ill. News Surveillance Related Topics:
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: