Airport screener in alleged attack over genitalia jokes

A Miami International Airport federal security screener has been arrested for allegedly using an expandable police baton to beat up a co-worker.
The source of their conflict, police say: daily ribbing about the size of the screener’s genitalia.

Screener Rolando Negrin’s private body parts were observed by his Transportation Security Administration colleagues conducting training on the airport’s full-body imaging machines. Months of joking culminated on Tuesday night, when Negrin attacked co-worker Hugo Osorno in an employee parking lot, according to an arrest report.

Negrin “stated he could not take the jokes anymore and lost his mind,” said the report, made public Thursday. The agitated screener forced Osorno to his knees and made him apologize before whacking him on the back and arms with the baton, according to the report. Negrin, who posted $7,500 bond on Wednesday night, is charged with aggravated battery.

Federal officials began using full-body scanning machines at airports across the nation in 2008, touting them as a high-tech, effective way to screen passengers for weapons or dangerous materials. Screeners in a separate room view images of the human body, private parts and all, with the person’s face blurred. The machines have raised concerns from the American Civil Liberties Union, which says they represent an invasion of passengers’ privacy.

Florida ACLU Director Howard Simon said he frowns on the “electronic strip search” and called on the government to use less invasive security technology. “Ribbing and fighting among TSA workers – it’s a sad story. It’s an unnecessary story,” Simon said Thursday. “The government is being seduced by new technology.” TSA spokesman Jonathan Allen, in a statement issued Thursday, said that Negrin is being suspended and an internal inquiry is being launched.

“TSA has a zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence,” he said. “We are investigating to determine whether training procedures were violated and will take appropriate action as necessary.”

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