I-Team investigating complaints at airport checkpoints

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CLEVELAND- The FOX 8 I-Team is investigating complaints about the people paid to keep you safe in the air. Digging into concerns raised by you about what happens at airport checkpoints.

Some of you have told us security agents at checkpoints in Cleveland have gone too far, so we took a closer look.

The I-Team investigated how many complaints get filed against officers with the Transportation Security Administration, why, and what happens after that.

We found last year, about 135 complaints filed against TSA agents in Cleveland, about 75 so far this year.

Many of the complaints fall under the heading ”Rude and Unprofessional Behavior." Many others for “Patdowns” and “Screening” issues. Others involve “Wait times” and baggage matters and more.

Denise Varga recently told us, “I had a female TSA agent come up put her hands together…and she was jamming them between my legs."

And Ally Burwell complained to TSA about her experience. She told the I-Team, “I mean, I feel like, definitely, there should be security measures. However, this has gone very far when they're making people unbutton jeans, and they feel you down there."

So what happens after complaints? Records reviewed by the I-Team show only two Cleveland agents disciplined over passenger screening.

We found if there's any fallout from any TSA complaint overall, most often that’s a letter of counseling or letter of reprimand. Rarely does someone get fired or demoted.

The TSA says it has streamlined procedures at checkpoints nationwide. Agents have not become more aggressive. And every complaint gets investigated by looking at security video and more.

After her complaint, Ally Burwell got a letter from the feds. It said, in part, “patdowns may be uncomfortable; however, they help us detect hidden and dangerous items."

The TSA says travelers should always be able to ask to see a supervisor during an encounter at a checkpoint.

The TSA could not immediately say if there are more or fewer complaints in Cleveland than in other airports.

The I-Team reached out multiple times to union leaders, and our calls were not returned.

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