A jet takes off at LAX. Photo by John Schreiber.
A jet takes off at LAX. Photo by John Schreiber.

Enhanced security measures implemented after the 2013 fatal shooting of a security officer at Los Angeles International Airport “dramatically” improved the law enforcement response to an outbreak of panic prompted by false reports of gunfire at the facility on Sunday, airport officials concluded Wednesday.

“An initial internal review of LAX’s emergency response to the recent active-shooter false alarm reflects the benefits from Los Angeles World Airports’ significant investment in resources, training and new equipment,” LAWA Chief Executive Officer Deborah Flint said.

“Preparation and training have been a key focus for emergency-response personnel and other airport stakeholders since the Nov. 1, 2013, Terminal 3 active-shooter incident at LAX,” Flint said.

At the onset of Sunday’s chaos, local and federal law-enforcement agencies, airport operations and other emergency-response representatives formed a “unified command” that communicated regularly with the airport’s operations center, Flint said.

According to the report released Wednesday:

— airport police officers immediately responded to multiple terminals to investigate, and it took less than an hour to secure all nine terminals;

— officials were able to quickly determine that the calls and social media posts about an active shooter were false alarms; and

— airport police reviewed closed-circuit television footage from the airport’s 2,500-camera surveillance system to confirm no shots had been fired.

Following the fatal shooting of a Transportation Security Administration officer in 2013, LAWA’s closed-circuit system was increased to 2,500 cameras, including 400 high-definition cameras inside the terminals, 150 at exterior locations and 350 analog cameras replaced with digital ones.

Airport officials came under fire in 2013 about troubles communicating information with passengers during the shooting at subsequent investigation. On Sunday, the airport made its first use of the Wireless Emergency Alert system both at the onset and end of the emergency-response portion of the incident. The system delivered public-safety messages to all smartphones within a five- mile radius of the airport. Airport Operations also used the airport’s internal notification system to inform airport stakeholders.

LAWA also spent more than $2 million on systems to provide visual messages inside the terminals and audio announcements inside and outside the terminals. On roadways leading into the Central Terminal Area, 14 changeable message signs were deployed and regularly updated on the status of the investigation.

“The first report of an active shooter in Terminal 8 was received at about 8:45 p.m. (Sunday),” according to LAWA.

“Airport police officers responded to the call in less than a minute from the time they were notified. Word spread quickly through the terminals by word-of-mouth and social media. This resulted in the evacuation of Terminals 1, 4, 6, 7 and 8.”

Airport officials said they will conduct additional reviews to assess the response to Sunday’s incident and will forward their findings to the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners and Los Angeles City Council.

Despite the positive review, the American Alliance of Airport Police Officers this morning restated its concerns about “unguarded TSA checkpoints.”

— City News Service


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