LOS ANGELES, CA – Airport perimeter breaches have become all too commonplace. According to a news investigation published in April of 2015, at the time, there had been 24 perimeter breaches at LAX since 2004. LAX has seen more perimeter breaches in the past three years than any other three year span in recent history. For example, a mentally ill man scaled the perimeter fence eight times between April 2012 and March 2013 and in two of those instances he was able to reach stairs that led to jets.
More recently, in December of 2015, vandals used bolt cutters to pass through the fence at Van Nuys airport and spray paint three private jets. A nearly identical breach occurred at Van Nuys in July 2013, after which LAAPOA immediately called for perimeter cameras and an alert system for Airport Police, as we did not have real-time access to the cameras along the fence line. To date, and multiple incidents later, our recommendations have gone unanswered by airport management. In fact, Airport Police still do not have dedicated cameras with a real-time feed of the perimeter fence or a perimeter intrusion detection system, and there has been no tangible changes instituted at LAX, Van Nuys or Ontario.
What is it going to take for airport management to address this vulnerability?!
Former Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon believes “[t]here is nothing that can’t be penetrated.” This defeatist position does not mean we should not take all reasonable steps possible to protect our airports, particularly when a camera and alert system for Airport Police is feasible and effective. Given the increase in airport and aircraft threat incidents, it is incumbent upon airports to take proactive steps to increase the safety of the traveling public.
“Airports continue to be high value terrorist targets,” said Marshall McClain, President of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association. “Those wanting to do harm are actively looking for any way to exploit vulnerabilities within or at the perimeter of our airports. We can’t just cross our fingers and hope for the best. These regular incursions are not acceptable and basic technology fixes will help better protect our airports.”