Nearly one year following the fatal shooting of a Transportation Security Administration officer at LAX, members of the Airport Police union complained Thursday that little has been done to bolster security at one of the nation’s busiest airports.
The union called on the city to implement changes aimed at preventing a repeat of the Nov. 1, 2013, shooting at Terminal 3 that claimed the life of TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez, 39. Union officials said there continue to be policing and security gaps that make the airport vulnerable to attack — most notably the split policing duties between the Airport Police and the Los Angeles Police Department.
“No other airport in this country has split policing like LAX’s dangerously disjointed model of having proprietary airport police unnecessarily supplemented by LAPD police,” according to the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association. “This was on full display post-apprehension of the Nov. 1 shooter when three chains of command, including one by the airport police and one by LAPD, were established. These eventually were merged into one LAXPD command but chaos ensued.”
The union said report completed in response to the shooting faulted the split-policing model, and also highlighted underfunding of airport police — in particular the lack of an airport police incident-command-post vehicle. Union officials also contend that Airport Police staffing has declined to its lowest level since 2008.
Responding to the union’s allegations, officials with Los Angeles World Airports released a seven-page outline of steps that have been taken or are in process to bolster safety following the shooting.
“While I can’t guarantee that a shooting will never occur again at LAX, we will do everything we can to improve our preparedness for an emergency, our response and our recovery efforts,” Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said, adding that an attack like the one that occurred at LAX last year could happen “anywhere in the United States.”
“Airport Police is actively involved in the Joint Regional Intelligence Center and the Joint Terrorism Task Force,” Gannon said. “This multi-agency regional approach to interceding in terrorist acts gives us our best option at identifying an attack before it occurs.”
— City News Service