Dr. David Mandy: Special Needs Son Harassed by TSA at Detroit Metropolitan Airport
Updated: Thursday, 09 Jun 2011, 3:32 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 08 Jun 2011, 11:10 PM EDT
By TARYN ASHER
WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com
ROMULUS, Mich. (WJBK) – The Mandy family says they were on their way to the happiest place on earth (Disney), but had to go through hell to get there.
“I realize they’re trying to keep people safe, but come on, does he look like a terrorist?” said Dr. David Mandy.
The family was going through security when two TSA agents singled Drew Mandy out for a special pat down. Drew is severely mentally disabled. He’s 29, but his parents said he has the mental capacity of a two-year-old, which made the experience that followed at metro Detroit’s McNamera Terminal that much harder to deal with.
“You have got to be kidding me. I honestly felt that those two agents did not know what they were doing,” Mandy told us.
Dr. Mandy claimed they asked Drew to place his feet on the yellow shoe line, something he didn’t understand. They proceeded to pat his pants down, questioning the padding which was his adult diapers. When the agents asked Drew to take his hand and rub the front and back of his pants so they could swab it for explosives, his dad stepped in and tried to explain that Drew was mentally challenged.
“They said, ‘Please, sir, we know what we’re doing,'” Mandy said.
The TSA agents saw Drew holding a six-inch plastic hammer.
“My son carries his ball and his hammer for security. He goes everywhere with (them),” said Mandy.
The TSA it seems saw the toy as a weapon.
“He took the hammer and he tapped the wall. ‘See, it’s hard. It could be used as a weapon,'” Mandy explained. “So, Drew’s also holding the ball, and I said, ‘Well, how about the ball?’ He (said), ‘Oh, he can keep that.”
Dr. Mandy was told he would need to have the toy shipped if he wanted to keep it, a process which caused them to almost miss their plane, so he pitched it.
“It just killed me to have to throw it away because he’s been carrying this like for 20 years,” Mandy said.
Disgusted, he wrote TSA a letter. A response wasn’t far behind.
“Very polite. Very apologetic. He was embarrassed. He (said) we have to review how we deal with special needs individuals. Obviously, he (said), we’re doing a terrible job,” Mandy told us. “It made me feel that there is still hope, that there is still justice and that there’s still somebody who listens to people’s problems (in) the federal government.
That’s because federal security told him there are 800 TSA agents at Metro Airport and they are all going to be retrained based on Drew’s case.
We also spoke to a federal security director who said this incident is still under investigation, but as far as they can tell right now, better judgment was needed.
The TSA took away one toy hammer, but they were still able to take another toy hammer on board the airplane. How did that happen?
Drew’s mother, always prepared, had another one in her backpack and that already passed through security with no problem.