This Is Why TSA Agents Shouldn’t Have Badges!

Filed Under: Security/TSA, Videos

A video went sort of viral last week, after a TSA agent at New Orleans Airport lost it on a 16 year old boy who was trying to film his dad getting a pat down.

Here’s the description on the YouTube video:

After being denied the right to film the process of being patted down by a TSA supervisor at MSY even after I politely asked, I went back and had a talk with the supervisor that refused to let me film him. He then proceeded to call the police on me unlawfully even after I explained to him that it clearly states on the TSA website that you are allowed to film the TSA agents as long as you don’t film their monitors and are not interfering with their process, which I wasn’t. He was the one who exploded on me initially (before I began recording) just because I wanted to film him which is completely legal. Thanks for watching.

And here’s the video:

The guy filming is right, no rules are being violated. Though you’ve gotta love that the TSA agent (who has three stripes, and is therefore a supervisor) calls a cop because he doesn’t want the kid filming. Then when the kid explains that the TSA’s website says that it’s allowed, the TSA agent responds “I don’t care, I didn’t put that website up.” And then he finishes with “you respect this badge right here.”


The TSA agent is onto something. There is one person “disrespecting the badge” by not following proper procedure. And it’s not the kid filming…

  1. I’m sorry but I see little difference between the TSA screeners response and the recent highly publicized incidents of actual police officers going off on people. Except maybe the TSA screener didn’t threaten to shoot the kid.

    Unfortunately regardless of agency you’re going to have a subset of people who get off on power tripping.

  2. maybe I am in the minority here but this kid is an idiot. Is he filming his dad so he can add it to the scrapbook or is he doing it to cause a scene? Given that he looked at the TSA website before makes me think he had a plan all along.

    The officer is in the wrong but I hate people that do this. It the same as people walk around the streets with a gun, because they have the right to. You are just wasting everyone’s time and money. It’s a pat down, put down the camera and stop trying to become a youtube sensation.

  3. I agree 100% with Patrick; the kid is obnoxious. “… put down the camera and stop trying to become a youtube sensation.”

  4. LOL. This is not shocking. And yes, they should not have badges. A few years ago I was hit very hard in the face with a plastic bin by a TSA Agent at IAD. I had a black and blue bruise on my nose the next day. Anyway, he did not even apoligze and walked away when I asked for his manager. He finally came back 30 minutes later (when I was meeting with the manager to get an incident report), called me a liar, and told them that he did not hit me with the bin. They reviewed the tape and that was the end of his lies. Some of the TSA agents are complete jerks… However, that can be said for any protective force whether TSA, military, or cops. Give someone a badge or authority and they may get a little crazy.

  5. The people filming were escalating the situation and picking on the screener. The screener should have been more professional, but I don’t think what he did was that bad. I agree with the analogy of people who open carry just to cause a scene. I’m sure the guy getting patted down opted out just to cause a scene as well.

  6. Ben,

    Been trying for past two days to book EY first class with AA miles and they are not seeing the inventory. I called several times and spoke with several agents and none were able to see. Update?

  7. And taking away badges from TSA officers would solve what, exactly?

    @Patrick @David @Tom – Agree 100%.

  8. Both parties seem as bad as one another.

    I tend to agree with some above comments – one party was looking to get this reaction and the other party wasn’t very mature by providing it

  9. I bet the TSA supervisor didn’t even know about the rules for filming.

    It’s absolutely mind blowing that cops/TSA/etc. put up such a fight about being filmed while they are carrying out their duties.

  10. How would we all feel if people came to our jobs and filmed us anytime they like? Maybe he didn’t exactly handle it well but I think we all have a right to say we don’t want cameras in our faces.

  11. The TSA agent obviously did not know the rules and by calling the police he made himself look at a joke.

    But then again, I guess the easiest way to piss off a stranger is to pull out a camera and start filming them?

  12. Very similar to the behavior of many airline personnel. You give them “authority” and they feel they are entitled to make your life miserable at their own discretion.

  13. @Brian L.

    TSA screeners initially had neither badges nor uniforms that resembled law enforcement like their current get-up does. This is because they are not law enforcement officers. They have authority to do precisely one thing: allow you access to the gate area of an airport. For anything else they must call an actual LEO.

    Since the issuance of blue shirts and badges (stated purpose was for “morale” so not even thinly veiled), the number of self-important, power tripping TSA screeners has gone way up.

    End the government jobs program that is the TSA. Let airlines bear the risk for screening pax and let’s see who does a better job.

  14. @Patrick

    I don’t think the open carry scenario is even remotely comparable to filming at TSA checkpoints/custom checkpoints or using in dash cams. If you suddenly go crazy, you can kill a lot of people with a gun. If you suddenly go crazy with your camera, you can… uh… throw it at people? The threat is not the same. The only threat to TSA agents is that if they don’t perform their jobs properly, it will be recorded, and every person in every occupation should be held accountable for their work performance, including TSA agents.

    This kid was a douche with a douche-y attitude and provocative with the words he chose (and the manner in which he said them) but there is absolutely nothing wrong with filming in itself.

  15. I agree with Patrick on this. The kid starts the problem by being the ass. I don’t like being filmed for any reason. I work for Uncle Sam with high level clearances. I have TSA Precheck but even then sometimes I get pulled over to get my bags checked with a swab and pat downs. I don’t complain and whine about it, it is part of their job and it is part of flying. The dad who is getting the pat down isn’t saying anything, he just wants to get through as fast as possible. But the kid is the one who instigates it. So what if your dad is going through a pat down, who cares? it happens. Shut up kid and get on your flight.

  16. @Bentley,
    His like or dislike of the rules does not excuse his attitude or ignorance of the rules. If he does not want to be filmed on the job he should find another line of work that doesn’t have a well established history of groping people, stealing from people etc. There are few re-courses available to citizens to combat entrenched positions of authority like the TSA or Police so filming them is a bit different than filming a private company employee doing work in a private building that is not cycling through tens of thousands of citizens a day

  17. Totally agree, Ben. TSA Agents are NOT Law Enforcement Officers, don’t have near the amount of training, let alone responsibility. These agents should not have badges. Period.

  18. I just love the reaction that the kid filming –who is exercising his rights for whatever reason– gets judged negatively for exercising his rights.

    The exercise of rights in this country is NOT dependent on whether others like it or not.


  19. I just want to say thanks to this young man who is enduring public ridicule for resisting erosion of important rights that I might someday want to use, such as if I were ever need to overcome the TSA’s version of the blue wall of silence to gather evidence that a particular TSA agent is habitually doing something illegal or abusive.

  20. Greta & Adam, thank you for your thoughtful comments. Reading some of the responses prior to yours was depressing. Thanks for restoring my belief that there are still people in the US who care about individual rights.

  21. @Hugh @S Nack

    “Both parties seem as bad as one another.”

    Strongly agree with you both, this is a case of two hot-heads clashing and creating distress and discomfort to everyone around them.

    It’s funny how some try to make out this is about defending civil rights, but only those of one of the parties (much like the right to carry crowd – “my rights trump your rights” *sigh*).

    Both sides wrongly looked to escalate the situation because of stubborn pig-headedness. Just because something is technically illegal doesn’t make it right, or a right! (There is no universal “right” to pointedly record someone, nor is there a right to act arbitrarily and beyond one’s powers granted by the people).

    If people were just reasonable and able to show mutual respect to each other, problems like these would cease to exist.

  22. @Chas – And how would taking away their badges reduce the number of “power trips”?

    “End the government jobs program that is the TSA.”

    Not happening. Ever. TSA’s here to stay, whether we like it or not.

  23. As Abe said: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power

    That’s when the “Do you know who I am” attitude comes out..

    (And that applies to the boy too. Give him the “power” to record , he proceeds to abuse this power to irritate someone performing his job.)

  24. Good lord people have gotten soft. This poor 16 year kid is growing up to be an entitled idiot. Did his father tell him to video the pat down? The TSA agent’s job is difficult enough without having to deal with baiting. Just for a moment imagine doing their job and being forced to interact with the kinds of people in an airport that you try so hard to avoid. I see the father tapped the TSA agent (00:08), probably not a good idea.

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