Video of a so-called Transportation Security Administration “freeze drill” has been posted online, showing a TSA officer instructing passengers to remain in place at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport before permitting them to leave.
The 24-second footage, posted on YouTube Tuesday, appears to show about a dozen passengers stopped in their tracks with two uniformed TSA officers supervising.
“Stay right where you are,” a blue-gloved TSA officer says as one person tries to walk through. “Stay right there.”
The user who uploaded the video stated the entire drill lasted about two minutes and that it took place within the “secured” part of the airport.
“The tension was rather palpable, as you might imagine. No explanation was given, no other words were spoken. No one moved a muscle. Parents grabbed their children. Anyone who fidgeted or made a step forward got yelled at,” the video’s description stated.
The TSA told the New York Times in 2011 that the drills are a training tool for officers to practice quickly shutting down a security checkpoint in the event of a security breach. TSA spokeswoman Kristina Lee said the agency has “wide-ranging legal authority to carry out security-related responsibilities.”
Still, Lee acknowledged “passengers are not required to ‘freeze’ in place like statues,” but said that if they’re within the checkpoint area they could be required to stay there until the drill concludes.
The TSA did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment from TheBlaze, including about whether the drill as shown in the video was in line with standard TSA policy.
Update: TSA spokesman Nico Melendez told TheBlaze he couldn’t comment specifically about the video and say whether it showed a drill in progress or an actual security situation. He said the drills are known as “all-stop drills” and are used “to test our security officers’ abilities to control a situation in the case of a possible breach.”
“All operations cease and everyone stops so we can identify where the situation might be taking place,” Melendez said, adding that passengers have been “very understanding and receptive.”
He said such drills are very common and are conducted multiple times a day at every airport in the country.
Though Melendez was unable to comment on the video’s specifics, he said everything shown seemed to be in line with TSA procedure.