Drunken man may have posed as airport screener, patted down women

Did a drunken man pose as a passenger screener at San Francisco International Airport?

Authorities are investigating whether a drunken man posed as a security screener at San Francisco International Airport and directed women to a private area for pat-down searches before he was caught.

The Transportation Security Administration and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office are looking into the incident, which occurred Tuesday at a security checkpoint inside the international terminal.

Sheriff's officials said a 53-year-old San Francisco man was arrested on suspicion of public drunkenness at the airport about 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Other charges, such as false imprisonment, are being considered.

Authorities have not released the name of the suspect.

Bay Area news accounts state that the incident began when a man entered the security checkpoint wearing khaki pants, a blue polo shirt and blue rubber gloves -- the type of clothes worn by screeners from Covenant, a private security firm that works with the TSA at the airport.

The man is suspected of directing two women to a private screening area used for random pat-down searches of airline passengers. It was not known what happened inside the screening area, and the women are believed to have boarded flights after leaving the checkpoint.

TSA officials declined to comment, except to say the agency "is aware of the alleged incident and is cooperating with law enforcement." They added that the incident did not involve a TSA or a Covenant employee.

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