BOSTON (CBS) – More than 30 TSA officers at Logan Airport have come forward, claiming a new behavior detection program intended to help flag possible terrorists based on passengers’ mannerisms has led to rampant racial profiling, according to a report by the New York Times.
The report says the program targets Middle easterners, Hispanics, blacks, and other minorities.
The alleged practice has reportedly become so prevalent, that Massachusetts State Police even raised questions about it, according to the Times.
“The behavior detection program is no longer a behavior-based program, but it is a racial profiling program,” the Times quoted an anonymous officer complaint as saying.
At least one passenger has filed a complaint.
The TSA has opened up an investigation and issued a statement on Sunday.
“If any of these claims prove accurate, we will take immediate and decisive action to ensure there are consequences to such activity. TSA’s Behavior Detection Programs have been designed to comply with DHS and DOJ civil rights policies for law enforcement and security activities and have been developed with the approval of subject matter experts, including renowned behavioral psychologists and experts in the field of behavioral analysis,” the statement read in part. “Racial profiling is not tolerated within the ranks of TSA, including within the Behavior Detection Program. Profiling is not only discriminatory, but it is also an ineffective way to identify someone intent on doing harm. Officers are trained and audited to ensure referrals for additional screening that are based only on observable behaviors and not race or ethnicity.”
Massport also indicated it planned to look into the report.
“The safety and security of passengers and airport workers are the top priorities of Massport. There is no place for racial profiling in any security program. It is illegal and it is not effective,” David S. Mackey, Interim CEO and Executive Director Massachusetts Port Authority said in a statement. “As the airport operator we take these allegations very seriously. We are eager to review the findings of a federal investigation into the matter. Massport promotes effective, legal federal security programs that protect the flying public.”