Colorado's US senators want Yampa Valley Regional Airport scanning machine replaced

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U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet

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U.S. Sen. Mark Udall

Reader poll

Do you agree with the Transportation Security Administration's decision to remove the body-scanning machine from Yampa Valley Regional Airport?

  • Yes, the machine was needed at a larger airport where it will get more use. 53%
  • No, the decision puts the airport at risk and increases security wait times. 38%
  • I don't know how I feel about the decision. 9%

339 total votes.

— Colorado’s two U.S. senators have sent a letter to the Transportation Security Administration asking for full-body scanning machines to be replaced quickly at Colorado’s regional airports.

That includes the machine at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden that was removed Feb. 26. Security screeners have reverted to older techniques and equipment including walk-through metal detectors, handheld wands and physical pat-downs.

During the weekend, the removal of the full-body scanner resulted in at least one very unhappy passenger — a teenage girl with a prosthetic leg who was asked to undergo a manual pat-down while going through security.

“The solution they came up with was she had to remove the leg and put it through the baggage scanner,” YVRA Manager Dave Ruppel said.

Ruppel said the situation could have been avoided had YVRA’s full-body scanner not been moved to a busier airport.

“We urge TSA to address this issue as swiftly as possible while providing a clear timeline for plan implementation and machine replacement,” states a letter signed by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.

The letter was sent Tuesday to TSA Administrator John Pistole after the TSA started moving L-3 Communications body-scanning machines from some regional airports to larger airports with higher volumes of passenger traffic. The machines are being moved because larger airports are losing body-scanning machines made by a company that wasn’t able to come up with a timely software fix that would allow them to comply with privacy rules put in place by Congress. The noncompliant machines showed detailed images of passengers’ bodies.

“We appreciate that TSA is operating under a tight timeline for replacing the problematic scanners in order to address the problem,” the letter from the senators states. “However, TSA's actions are having a real impact on Colorado passengers and the regional airports working to serve them. Airport administrators worry that the redeployment could result in longer wait times and undermine the more stringent security standards that TSA is working to achieve through these scanners. In addition, certain Colorado airports located in the Rocky Mountains are seeing a spike in travelers due to ski season, making this a particularly difficult time to switch passenger screening equipment.”

The comments from the senators echo concerns expressed by Ruppel. Ruppel, however, said it did not appear wait times at his airport were longer than normal during the busy weekend. He credits the local TSA crew, which he said was staffed appropriately and was prepared to use the old screening techniques.

Ruppel still takes issue with the customer service aspect, including YVRA travelers like the unhappy teenager potentially being subjected to uncomfortable pat-downs.

“That’s almost a bigger issue than anything else,” Ruppel said.

Ruppel said he is happy that pressure is being put on TSA to create a timeline for bringing in a new body scanner.

“You want people’s last impression to be a positive one,” Ruppel said about the airport experience.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Eric Morris 1 year, 8 months ago

Please take nude images by irradiating us and lining the pockets of L-3 Comms, we beg you, while violating our 4th Amendment rights to ensure our 2nd Amendment rights are being denied.

Sincerely,

Your Supposed Civil Libertarian Senators Bennet and Udall

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 8 months ago

The girl with the prosthetic leg should be pissed. Having to remove a prosthesis and send it through the Xray machine violates the TSA's guidelines. A pat down of the prosthesis should have been sufficient;

http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/passengers-prosthetics

2

Scott Wedel 1 year, 8 months ago

Shouldn't the public, those that care about disabled rights, and those that care about passengers be upset that YVRA's TSA agents violated agency rules and made a teenaged girl remove a prosthesis?

Shouldn't Dave Ruppel be writing a letter of apology to the girl for the airport's violations of TSA guidelines?

Shouldn't the public be outraged that Dave Ruppel is condoning violations of TSA rules by his TSA staff and instead is using the outrageous incident to request for the urgent return of full body scanners?

1

Scott Wedel 1 year, 8 months ago

Maybe YVRA's TSA is so used to looking at nude images of passengers and airport management appreciates outrageous violations of passengers to justify the return of the full body scanner that we should expect YVRA TSA's staff to require all passenger strip naked to pass through the metal detector?

1

John St Pierre 1 year, 8 months ago

And now I see in the news that the TSA is going to allow pocket knives on the planes....

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Eric Morris 1 year, 8 months ago

Silly uniforms (Blue versus Brown)-Check Humiliating the disabled, young, or frail-Check Having a close working relationship with corporations (L-3 as the modern-day Krupp/Bayer)-Check Major Focus on a Semitic People (Ishmael rather Isaac this time)-Check Using the patina of law or democracy to usurp rights-Check Just following orders-Check People allowing it to happen (I only fly occasionally versus I am not a Jew/Gypsy/Homosexual) -Check It is better for the Volk-Check

Wake up. Now your supposed "representatives" in the Reichstag, er Capitol, are begging on your behalf for you to be humiliated.

1

Paul Hughes 1 year, 8 months ago

For your information, Scott, the TSA staff at YVRA do not report to Dave Ruppel, and he has no authority over them. Your criticism of him is misplaced and grossly unfair.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 8 months ago

Paul,

Well, if they do not work for him then he should still not be condoning their violation of a teenaged girl's rights recognized by the TSA and using the incident to publicly argue for the return of the full body scanner.

Instead he should be apologizing to the girl on behalf of YVRA and submitting an official complaint to the TSA on behalf of the traveling public.

It is fundamentally awful that YVRA TSA are poorly trained to not know what is the proper way to handle someone with a prosthesis, and when faced with that situation they do not look up how TSA says it is supposed to be handled, but make up their methods of handling the situation.

1

Brian Kotowski 1 year, 8 months ago

TSA is one of the most ridiculous inanities to emerge from the Bush administration. Seems to be wide agreement on that point on both the left & right. Disappointing how 43's successor appears to be doubling down. Not to mention the most intrusive aspects of the Patriot Act, the suspension of Habeas Corpus appended to the recent the NDAA renewal... ye gods.

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Mike Isaac 1 year, 8 months ago

Lets get rid of the TSA and keep the naked radiation machines out of Hayden for good. These two morons need to go but who is to say that their replacements wont be more of the same. We need more guys like Rand Paul and David Cruz in the house and Senate. I am so sick of the same old Neocons and Liberals that always turn out to be Fascist that only care about Apple, GE, BP or the Defense Industry. The Working class and Small business owners be dammed.

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