Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is on par to, if not larger than, many small cities. It is the 2nd busiest airport in the country, served a record-breaking 74.9 million passengers in 2015, is undergoing a massive expansion of its international terminal and landside areas and continues to be the #1 terrorist target on the west coast. Despite the significant passenger loads and dynamic environment, there are less officers patrolling the airport today than in 2010.
The independent Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), established by the California Legislature in 1959, found that while there were 450 officers in 2010, there are currently 413 rank-and-file police officers. Though the process has begun to add new police officers to the force, these numbers are far short of the officers needed to bring the LAXPD in line with the number of officers that have been lost to attrition.
This depletion of our ranks directly affects the safety of travelers, airport employees, and our own officers. With the exponential physical growth at our airport, including the expansion of the International Terminal; the multi-million dollar Landside Access Modernization Program which will include an Automated People Mover to connect the central terminal to a new car rental lot, additional airport parking and Metro transit; and the development of a new VIP lounge, officers are needed to patrol and secure these additional facilities.
To support this effort and allow the LAXPD to hire at a faster rate, the requirement that LAXPD police officers process through the LAPD Academy should be eliminated. At times, the LAXPD is only allowed two to three spots per class. Alternative academies, such as the Rio Hondo Police Academy and that of the Los Angeles Sheriff Department, should be used to allow the LAXPD to keep up with the security needs of the airport and the continuous mandates placed on our police force.
“With the rise in number of travelers and the ever-expanding footprint of our airport, police officer vacancies must be filled immediately by increasing the number of candidates to the Police Academy and allowing LAXPD to utilize other academies,” said Marshall McClain, President of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association. “Now is the time for LAX to invest proportionately and adequately in its rank-and-file police force in order to meet the increasingly complex needs of our airport system.”