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Senators Want TSA Passenger Advocates At Airports

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Lenore Zimmerman, 85, said she was strip searched at JFK airport.  (Source: CBS4)

Lenore Zimmerman, 85, said she was strip searched at JFK airport. (Source: CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBS4) – A pair of senators from New York are calling on the Transportation Security Administration to put specially trained passenger advocates at every airport. This after three elderly women accused the agency of strip searching them at JFK airport in New York as they were on their way to Fort Lauderdale.

One of those women was 84-year old grandmother Lenore Zimmerman.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Zimmerman, “I think these things shouldn’t happen. You rely on the airport and the security there to protect you. You should not be exposed to this kind of abuse.”

Zimmerman said TSA agents took her to a private room after she refused a full body scan because of an implanted defibrillator. That is when she said an agent pulled down her pants and underwear.

“Flying became a degrading experience that should be avoided at all cost,” said Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).

Schumer, along with state Senator Michael Gianaris made the announcement Sunday flanked by the sons of the elderly women.

“We are calling on the TSA to give a voice to those who feel they may have been inappropriately treated or subject to overly onerous screening,” said Senator Schumer.

His proposal would post a trained passenger advocate to field complaints and address them immediately at all airports. Zimmerman was pleased to hear about the proposal and hopes that it is adopted.

“Women should not be abused. They should be protected,” she said.

The TSA denies that any strip searches took place. The agency said it is giving a refresher training course to its agents at JFK airport. The TSA also plans on establishing an 800 number in January for passengers with disabilities or medical conditions.

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