Fiscal mismanagement, understaffing of airport police and failed policy initiatives are at the cornerstone of former LAXPD Chief Patrick Gannon’s tenure.
For the last several years, LAX has contracted LAPD officers to work at the airport at exorbitant rates. This has resulted in the airport paying more money for services that can and should be done by LAXPD officers. It also takes LAPD officers off of City streets and out of communities where they are needed and belong. Instead of putting an end to this costly and wasteful practice, Chief Gannon has continued to bring on board pricey contracted officers from his beloved alma mater, LAPD.
The airport has expanded massively, both in physical space and passenger loads, over the last few years. However, the number of rank-and-file officers has declined since its peak in 2010. As the airport continues to grow, including a multi-billion dollar Landside Access Modernization Program, more airport means more areas for police to patrol. Instead of bringing on additional officers to accommodate the ongoing expansion, Chief Gannon has continued to allow airport police officer staffing levels to languish.
In June of 2013, Chief Gannon reversed the longstanding department policy of having an airport police officer stationed at the TSA screening checkpoint. Not five months later, the November 1, 2013 shooting took place in which a shooter gunned his way past the screening area. Instead of an officer being at the TSA checkpoint, which could have prevented the shooter from making his way beyond the checkpoint and injuring additional individuals, Chief Gannon’s shortsighted policy endangered lives.
These are only a small sampling of Chief Gannon’s failures. Despite his lackluster record at LAX, City and airport leaders have astonishingly chosen to promote him to Director of Airport Safety Services. LAAPOA asks, how can someone who has consistently overlooked passenger, airport employee and officer safety needs be elevated to a position with greater oversight of security at the nation’s third busiest airport?
With a search for a new LAXPD Chief underway, LAAPOA encourages Mayor Eric Garcetti, the City Council, LAWA Executive Director Deborah Ale Flint and the Board of Airport Commissioners to seek out an individual who will rigorously support and defend the officers of the LAXPD, whose sole priority is to protect and defend our passengers and employees, and stand for the autonomy of our police department.
“Chief Gannon’s history of failures has not only jeopardized airport safety, but his actions have undermined our officers’ daily efforts to keeping the traveling public and airport employees, as well as themselves, safe,” said Marshall McClain, President of LAAPOA. “While everyone claims public safety is a priority, no one has chosen to stand up and fix the financial mismanagement, understaffing and disastrous policies that thrived under Chief Gannon’s tenure. LAAPOA is hopeful City and airport leaders will select a strong leader who understands the unique challenges at the airport and one who will take action to address these concerns so that our airport is well prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the future.”