Article taken from Examiner.com
By Howard Portnoy
We can all sleep easier tonight knowing that Drew Mandy’s plastic toy hammer is in the trash rather than terrorizing passengers and crew on the plane he and his parents boarded for Walt Disney World.
If you’re looking for someone to thank for depriving a mentally challenged 29-year-old of his much-beloved security blanket, look no further than the Transportation and Security Administration.
Members of this feckless bunch sprung into action at Detroit Metro Airport when they first laid eyes on Mandy, whose parents say has the mental capacity of a 2-year-old. They singled him out for a special pat-down, which makes perverse sense of a sort: Special pat-downs for people with special needs.
Security personnel sensed they had sniffed out a troublemaker when they asked Drew to place his feet on a yellow shoe line, and he failed to comply. His father intervened, explaining that his son didn’t understand what they were asking, but the TSA ordered David Mandy to back off, explaining, “Please, sir, we know what we’re doing.”
They proceeded to pat Drew’s pants down, questioning the padding they found, which turned out to be his adult diapers. When the agents asked Drew to take his hand and rub the front and back of his pants so they could swab it for explosives, his dad tried again in vain to explain that his son suffered severe retardation, but the stalwart TSA refused to be deterred.
It was then that agents spotted the “weapons” Drew was attempting to smuggle onto the flight: a ball and a six-inch plastic hammer.
“My son carries his ball and his hammer for security. He goes everywhere with [them],” explained his father.
But the TSA wasn’t falling for that. One of them took the hammer and tapped the wall, observing, “’See, it’s hard. It could be used as a weapon.”
Drew’s parents were told they could make arrangements to ship the toy to their destination. Since that would result in their missing their flight, however, David Mandy reluctantly tossed the toy instead, remarking, “It just killed me to have to throw it away because he’s been carrying this like for 20 years.”
While the TSA is busy harassing passengers who pose no legitimate threat, those who do meantime are boarding planes with increasing frequency. In March, a man with a history of psychiatric problems sneaked past security and onto a plane at JFK airport in New York. A week earlier, another passenger boarded a plane at the same airport carrying box cutters—the very “weapon” used by the 9/11 hijackers to commandeer four planes.
Understandably upset, Drew Mandy’s father wrote to the TSA and received a conciliatory response that noted among other things that the 800 TSA agents at Detroit Metro Airport would be retrained as a result of their mishandling of Drew’s case. Retrained? How about training them to do their job correctly in the first place?
In case you’re feeling bad about Drew’s losing his hammer, the story has a happy footnote. Drew’s mother, having evidently learned long ago how to suffer fools, had a second hammer secreted in her backpack. It passed through the airport’s eagle-eyed security without a hitch.