No complaints about pat-downs in Aspen |

No complaints about pat-downs in Aspen

ASPEN – Groping hasn’t been a problem in Aspen this fall, at least not by Transportation Security Administration agents at the airport.

“I was speaking with the supervisor from the TSA [Monday] and they’ve done just three or four of those very detailed hand searches that have made a lot of news as of late,” Jim Elwood, director of aviation at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, said Tuesday. “They try very hard to be respectful of folks in the process.”

Elwood told the Aspen Chamber Resort Association board of directors that the TSA at the Aspen airport has historically done very well in customer surveys “in terms of how they treat people.”

The federal agency implemented new policies throughout the country this fall as part of its effort to find non-traditional explosive devices. Passengers who do not want to submit to a full-body backscatter scan and those that set off specific warnings in standard screening procedures are subjected to “enhanced pat-downs” by TSA agents. Some critics say the searches are invasive.

Such searches have “not been an issue for us at this point, and we’re really glad about that,” Elwood said.

The TSA is hiring more agents in Aspen this winter than in past years in an effort to keep the security line shorter, according to Elwood. The new type of scanning devices will be installed at the Aspen airport, but not this winter, he said.

It will present a challenge to provide the space for the machines and keep lines flowing smoothly, Elwood said. He is working on a plan with the Pitkin County commissioners.

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