Airports continue to be high value targets for terrorists because of their access to airplanes. The screening checkpoint is the last line of defense in keeping those seeking to do harm away from awaiting, fueled planes.
Having an airport police officer near the screening area can help prevent threats from developing. In this regard, LAAPOA has long called for an airport police officer to be stationed within 300 feet of the screening area. This would ensure that an officer is immediately available to respond to issues at the screening station and provides the flexibility for an officer to roam near the checkpoint in order to observe and monitor the surroundings.
The importance of this issue was highlighted during the 2013 LAX shooting. For many years prior, officers were stationed at the screening checkpoint and available to intervene should a threat arise. However, in June of 2013, former LAXPD Chief Patrick Gannon changed the department’s longstanding policy and removed police officers from the screening area. Barely five months later, this security gap was exposed on November 1, 2013, when a lone gunman entered the screening area and shot and killed a TSA agents before an airport police officer took the shooter down. Had an officer been stationed within 300 feet of the screening checkpoint and the department policy not been changed, it is possible that this tragic event could have been prevented.
“As we have done many times before, LAAPOA reiterates its calls for the implementation of a 300 foot rule at the screening checkpoint,” said Marshall McClain, President of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association. “It is long overdue for this recommendation to be implemented. When it comes to making our airports more secure, we will not remain silent when it comes to the safety of airport travelers and employees.”