It wasn't the neon-green comb tucked in a loose-leaf notebook that caught the eye of a TSA screener at BWI Monday morning — it was what the comb concealed: a knife with a 4-inch blade.

Pamela Whitfield, 31, of Hampton, Va., was charged with carrying an unauthorized weapon through airport security, a misdemeanor, after an X-ray machine operator noticed an "unusual image," said Kawika Riley, a Transportation Security Administration spokesman. The comb was lying along the binder's spine among some papers and a folder.

Whitfield was escorting her daughter, a minor, to her Atlanta flight at 7:30 a.m. when she was stopped, said Sgt. Kirk Perez of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.

An officer confiscated the weapon, issued the criminal citation and allowed Whitfield to continue to the gate with her daughter. The maximum penalty is a $500 fine and 90 days in jail.

The incident did not delay checkpoint or airport operations, Riley said.

Candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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