The TSA informed employees and flight crews Thursday that the agency will begin conducting more intimate body searches of air passengers, Bloomberg reported.
The agency was vague on the details of what this new approach would entail, telling Bloomberg that the searches would be “more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.”
“I would say people who in the past would have gotten a pat-down that wasn’t involved will notice that the [new] pat-down is more involved,” TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson said.
Where TSA agents once only used the back of their hands, they will also use the front of their hands while conducting pat-downs.
The change in protocol came after a 2015 study by the Department of Homeland Security revealed that the TSA failed to detect banned substances or weapons in 67 out of 70 tests administered by undercover teams, ABC reported. The acting top TSA official at the time, Melvin Carraway, was immediately reassigned.
“We know that the adversary innovates and we have to push ourselves to capacity in order to remain one step ahead,” a TSA official wrote on the agency’s blog in March 2013.
Pat-downs have long been part of the TSA’s security screening process. People who refuse standard screening, set off an alarm, or are randomly selected can be subject to additional screening, including pat-downs.
“A pat-down may include inspection of the head, neck, arms, torso, legs, and feet. This includes head coverings and sensitive areas such as breasts, groin, and the buttocks,” according to the TSA website.
Passengers are always screened by a person of their same gender and may request a private screening with a second agent present.