LOS ANGELES – In view of a recent string of airport security incidents, the American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO) is again calling for unfettered access to closed circuit security systems and imploring the TSA to coordinate a unified stream of video feeds at airports nationwide. We have repeatedly pressed the government and lawmakers to pass legislation that keep American airports safe and free from preventable incidents and tragedies.
There is no more perfect example than the recent false alarm incident that brought JFK Airport to a stand-still. Had rank and file officers been able to access all the closed circuit camera systems, in a centralized location, officers may have been able to determine earlier that there was indeed not a threat which would have allowed them to take control of the situation in a more efficient manner. The issue here is not that there is no plan—airport police departments conduct active shooter simulations on a regular basis—the issue is, however, that the law enforcement officers on the ground do not have access to the basic necessities that allow them to do the job efficiently.
Other events, including the Newark Airport robbery and the LAX TSA shooting could have been prevented or shut down much faster if the TSA required all entities with airport closed circuit camera systems to provide real-time access to airport police. Outside of the U.S., international attacks in Istanbul and Brussels underscore the urgency of improving airport security through the coordination, streamlining and standardization of live-camera feeds at airport terminals. Airports and aircraft continue to be high-priority targets for terrorists, and common sense, minimal investments in camera security to fortify our airports and protect passengers must be made to prevent future incidents.
In order to deter future airport violence and crimes, or at the very least assist law enforcement with assessing and managing crisis situations, all airport entities that operate camera systems must be ordered to fully comply and coordinate with airport police before, during and after an incident occurs. The AAAPO cannot stress enough how important real-time access to camera feeds in concert with one unified security footage stream will dramatically improve airport security, largely in part because there will be fewer gaps and discrepancies amongst individual security camera systems. Better-coordinated video surveillance systems, coupled with increased access and footage of the entire airport, will help airport police to protect travelers and create a safe environment for passengers and airport personnel.
“This is not the first time we have called for unhindered access to a unified closed-circuit camera live stream in our airports,” said Marshall McClain, President of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, and co-founder of the AAAPO. “It is a fact that with access to a live stream of all security cameras in our airports we would be able to protect the public with much more efficiency.”
“Our guys are out there, basically blind, trying to do their jobs, and we want to know when something is going to be done about this,” said Paul Nunziato, President of the Port Authority Police Benevolent association, and co-founder of the AAAPO. “We are sick and tired of the Monday morning quarterbacking we see every time an issue arises at an airport, while since at least 2012, our calls for access to all cameras have been ignored. It’s sickening.”