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TSA will stop making kids take off shoes for airport security

September 14, 2011 |  9:42 am


The Transportation Security Administration has decided that children 12 and younger are less of a terrorism risk -- at least as far as airports are concerned.

The agency, charged with anti-terrorism security at the nation's airports, will no longer require children to remove their shoes before they go through airport scanners, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress on Tuesday. The policy change will also curtail pat-downs of children.

“We do want to move, and are moving, to a more risk-based approach to screening passengers,” Napolitano told Congress. TSA wants to “try to streamline procedures for those passengers who are low-risk, which enhances our ability to focus on passengers who either we don't know or who are high-risk,” she said.

Napolitano spoke during a hearing at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The new policy is expected to be implemented soon.

TSA, part of the Homeland Security Department, already has used a modified pat-down for children 12 and younger as part of a pilot program to speed up security searches. Still, the agency is not abandoning all such searches or the requirement to remove shoes at times.

"There is a need to keep security precautions unpredictable," Napolitano said. “There will always be some unpredictability built into the system, and there will always be random checks even for groups that we are looking at differently, such as children,” she said.


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Photo: Justine Makoff of Huntington Beach gets ready to fly out of Orange County with daughter Madison, 18 months, and son Dillon, 4, over Thanksgiving. Authorities will drop some security requirements for children 12 and younger.  Credit: Al Schaben / Los Angeles Times