LOS ANGELES, CA – This past weekend’s incident at LAX in which 70 pounds of cocaine was found in the carry-on luggage of a flight attendant who fled the airport without her luggage and left her Gucci shoes when she was randomly selected for screening reinforces the need to require that an airport police officer be within 300 feet of a TSA screening checkpoint; real-time police access to airport security cameras and all airport employees screened.
The American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO) has advocated for these changes for many years now, including in a 2012 letter to then TSA Administrator John Pistole.
300 Foot Rule: Having a dedicated police officer located within 300 feet of the TSA security checkpoint, which is the last barrier to stop threats from reaching planes, will ensure an officer is close enough to react quickly and could have stopped the shoeless flight attendant from fleeing the screening area at LAX.
Real-Time Camera Access: Giving police real-time access to all existing airport cameras, including those operated by airlines, TSA, retailers and others, will create a unified surveillance system that could have tracked the movements of the flight attendant who fled LAX and stopped her before she left the premise.
Total Employee Screening: Screening all airport employees, like they do at Miami and Orlando airports, will help prevent an “insider threat” or criminal activity by employees. Given the amount of cocaine the flight attendant at LAX was carrying, it was likely not her first time smuggling drugs. Had a policy of total screening been in place, she would have been detected the first time she attempted to travel with drugs and all future attempts would have been thwarted.
“The brazen attempt by an airline employee to bring nearly 70 pounds of cocaine through the airport—which was clearly not her first attempt—warrants that these recommendations be implemented now. In particular, screening all employees is feasible since other major airports are already doing it,” said said Marshall McClain, co-founder of the AAAPO and President of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association. “We cannot wait for an employee to bring aboard or plant something more nefarious on a plane before we take action. The threat is real, the consequences are potentially disastrous and we are offering practical and concrete actions to help secure our airports.”
“When you have a security gap, like the lack of a dedicated police presence at the screening checkpoint, the solution should be to close the loophole by having a police officer be within 300 feet of the area,” said Paul Nunziato, co-founder of the AAAPO and President of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Benevolent Association. “Similarly, when police officers do not have real-time access to airport security cameras, which can impede investigations, the logical answer would be to give police access to the cameras. The recommendations we have laid out are not only reasonable but will help fortify security at airports and cannot and should not be ignored any longer.”