PUBLISHED:08:35 EST, 27 September 2012| UPDATED:09:19 EST, 27 September 2012
A new video reveals a strange TSA security tactic: demanding that travelers ‘freeze’ in place, even though they have already been through airport security.
A passenger says he recorded the end of a ‘freeze drill’ at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport as bewildered travelers stopped in their tracks and stood still for about two minutes.
Critics of the Transportation Security Administration say the procedure is nothing more than ‘obedience training’ for the flying public — a kind of grown up ‘Simon says.’
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‘Obedience training’: A TSA agent motions that travelers can start moving again after a two-minute ‘freeze drill’
The user who posted the video on YouTube claims the clip shows the final 24 seconds of a two-minute ‘freeze drill’ that occurred without reason on provocation.
The video was recorded on the security side of the TSA checkpoint and the passengers told to stop had already been screened, the user says.
‘Note that there was NO event or threat taking place of any kind,’ the poster says.
When one traveler tries to walk past the TSA screener, through the crowd of passengers who are standing still, the agent holds up his hand.
‘Stay right where you are. Stay right there,’ he says.
A few seconds later the agent motions to allow passengers to begin moving again.
Someone, it’s no clear who, can be heard saying ‘green light,’ a reference to a children’s game that requires players to stop or start moving whenever an adult says ‘red light’ or ‘green light.’
Secure: The poster of the video says the ‘freeze drill’ happened at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on the secure side of a TSA checkpoint
New York Times travel columnist Joe Sharkey wrote about the practice in 2011, saying he had been subject to ‘freeze drills’ twice.
He likened the experience to another children’s game, ‘Simon Says,’ as in ‘Simon says stop where you are.’
However, Sharkey revealed, passengers aren’t actually required to stand in their tracks.
The TSA told Sharkey the security tactic is actually just a training drill for TSA agents, and usually only happens ‘once or twice a year’ at each airport.
The agency claims it’s meant to help screeners practice locking down a security checkpoint so that no one can pass through it.
James Babb, a founder of TSA watchdog Wewontfly.com, has another theory.
‘All I can think of is obedience training. I kind of know what to expect from the TSA., but really on this, my frustration is with the public that says, “Oh, an authority figure said freeze, so I’d better freeze,” and not ask reasonable questions,’ he told the Times.
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