Senator: TSA search became "degrading experience"

Plan would put "passenger advocates" at every airport

MIAMI - After a third woman came forward this week saying she was strip-searched by Transportation Security Administration agents, a U.S. senator is proposing legislation to help prevent similar situations from occurring.

Eighty-eight year old Ruth Sherman, a cancer survivor, said she was asked by TSA agents at John F. Kennedy Airport to see her colostomy bag.

"I was so speechless," Sherman said. "I mean I was absolutely speechless."

Sherman is one of three women who recently said TSA searches went too far. However, TSA said the searches never happened. Now a U.S. senator is calling for a more thorough investigation of the claims.

"Instead of being an unpleasant and sometimes frustrating experience for these passengers, it became a degrading experience," New York Sen. Charles Schumer said.

Sherman's son was with Schumer Sunday morning when he announced a new idea to place passenger advocates at every airport. This position would be someone from TSA that a traveler can speak to if they feel something isn't going quite right.

"It's not hard," Schumer said. "It's taking a handful of the TSA agents at the airport and giving them the necessary training and knowledge."

The TSA said officers at JFK are receiving "refresher training to include scenario based exercises on how to respectfully and safely screen passengers with disabilities or medical conditions to ensure all the proper safety procedures are followed."

Meanwhile, Schumer's office said they sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Sunday and said if they don't respond or take action on their own, the senator will draft legislation to make passenger advocates a reality.

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