Los Angeles, Calif. – In light of the attack at Istanbul Airport, and with the 4th of July travel rush in full swing, the American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO) reinforces its repeated calls for airport police to have access, in real-time, to all closed circuit security camera systems at airports.
Last night’s NBC News 4 story highlights, airport security cameras are lacking at many major airports including Newark and LaGuardia airports. Most airports have a fractured camera system in which vendors, tenants, TSA and others can deny access to airport law enforcement. In instances like the one in Turkey, surveillance cameras can be key to identifying suspects and accomplices. It is essential that major U.S. airports have a surveillance system accessible by airport police in real time.
Lapses in camera coordination have led to airport disruptions and numerous individuals eluding capture. As the NBC News 4 story featured, the lack of cameras at Newark Airport prevented police from identifying an individual who made a call from a terminal payphone threatening to open fire and blow up a British Airways plane. Also at Newark, robbers were able to tie up Smart Carte workers and take off with $150,000 because there was no video camera presence in the area. In the case of the November 1, 2013 LAX TSA shooting (which is not in NBC’s piece), airport police and airport management were unable to track the shooter who entered roadside, rode up an escalator, walked through the screening area, and down a hallway before he was taken down by airport police in a roundabout food court. The airport police did not have eyes on the shooter during his rampage in which he shot seven people, killing one.
In this regard, the AAAPO has called on TSA to require any entity with a closed circuit camera system at airports to provide real-time access to airport police.
“It’s crazy that in this day in age, when nanny cameras and Go-Pro’s are used everywhere and can be accessed from anywhere, airport police at some of the busiest, most terrorist-targeted airports in our country cannot get real-time access to all closed circuit cameras at the airports,” said Marshall McClain, co-founder of the AAAPO and President of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association. “This is not a major investment—its low hanging fruit that airport management has ignored.”
Paul Nunziato, co-founder of the AAAPO and President of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Benevolent Association, said, “What is it going to take for leaders to wake up and recognize that this is a major security gap at airports? Why are people continuing to ignore the warning signs? We’ve seen what bad guys have done in Turkey, Brussels and the list can go on… Why isn’t TSA willing to common sense minimal investments to fortify security at these airports? What is more important—the bottom line or passenger safety?”