This last week, Detective Mendoza and I went to San Diego to pick up a murder suspect who was caught at the border. After picking up the prisoner, we went to the airport and met with the TSA people. These are the people who take away the nasty fingernail clippers and inspect your dirty loafers. We presented our bona fides in order to fly on the plane while armed; this included our badges, letter from the chief, qualifications, affidavit from the Pope, testimonial from our third grade teacher, and a notarized statement promising that we would not shoot the pilot or make holes in the plane. We were then pulled out of the long, x-raying, shoe removing, metal detecting line and taken to a by-pass room. All was going well; the TSA guy was inspecting the paperwork and found it to be all in order (because I think my third grade teacher forgot who I was), then asked,
"So, will both you officers be traveling armed?"
I then explained to him that only I was armed, and Detective Mendoza was not, as he would be sitting next to the prisoner. This seemed to not make any sense to the TSA guy; he said,
"So he (Mendoza) does not have a gun?"
"That is correct."
I could see the "TILT" look in this guy's mind.
"Is there any problem?" I asked.
Mr. rocket-scientist TSA guy replied,
"If he is not armed, he will have to go back through the inspection line."
"But, here is the proper paperwork, he COULD be armed, but is not."
"Yes, but if he is NOT armed, he has to be inspected for dangerous items."
"But he is AUTHORIZED to carry any dangerous items!"
"But because he's NOT carrying anything dangerous, he has to be inspected."
I thought about arguing further, but I suddenly remembered that I was dealing here with a federal employee (no offense intended FBI, DEA, US Marshals, Homeland Security and military). I kept my mouth shut, told Mendoza I would see him on the other side, and thought that perhaps it was me that had the problem. After Mendoza and the TSA guy left the room, my prisoner looked at me said,
"That's the stupidest thing I ever heard of!"
Well, we made it back alright; my shoes still smelled, and no one maliciously trimmed my fingernails... I should not complain too much.