LOS ANGELES – Over the weekend at LAX airport we saw another incident that reinforces the American Alliance of Airport Police Officers’ (AAAPO) concerns about unguarded TSA checkpoints. It is important to note that during these incidents, passengers ran through security checkpoints without being cleared. Furthermore, passengers who had already gone through clearance were running out of the airport onto the tarmac which gave them direct access to planes. Many left luggage that could have explosives in it unattended.
The point is, a bad guy does not have to be too sophisticated to be able to figure out that if someone just yells “shooter,” all bets are off and TSA clearance immediately becomes free flowing and airplanes become accessible in the unfolding chaos. Without an armed officer at the checkpoints, the checkpoints themselves become utterly useless in a time of confusion and chaos, and without real-time access to cameras, airport police are hamstrung in having one of the most essential tools in assessing the legitimacy of situations like those that led to pandemonium at JFK and LAX.
Just like the JFK incident, the Los Angeles Airport Police also don’t know the cause for the panic. Normally, in situations like this, someone comes forward to say they misinterpreted something which led to a spillover affect– so far, nothing like that has come to light in Los Angeles. It is not a conspiracy theorist stretch to wonder if a terrorist could be testing our airports.
AAAPO is also seeing a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking and “expert” pundits analyzing these instances. They are wrong, plain and simple. When the uninformed propose increasing Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response squads and/or other efforts, it will only complicate subsequent responses beyond the initial first response by airport police. We are proud to point out at both JFK and LAX that the initial first response by airport police was textbook. People are going to get hurt because of bureaucracy.
So, instead of writing a new press release for the LAX incident, we will reiterate the JFK release and ask again: How many press releases will it take for AAAPO’s common sense 300 foot and real time camera access policies to advance? We hope it’s before someone dies or a bad guy gets to a plane.
“Once again, we are all witness to a chaotic situation that has exposed security gaps at the nation’s airports,” said Marshall McClain, President of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, and co-founder of the AAAPO. “I am tired of having to re-explain, week in and week out, why it is so important that we have an armed officer stationed within 300 feet of TSA checkpoints, and why airport police need unfettered access to all closed circuit camera systems in each airport. The explanation lies within these incidents themselves; we have gaps that need to be filled, but nobody is listening to us.”
“At JFK, and now LAX, we have seen similar instances of panic that exposed travelers to serious danger,” said Paul Nunziato, President of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, and co-founder of the AAAPO. “We’ve talked about this issue for over 4 years now, but everything’s fallen on deaf ears. We must solve these issues, and we must do it now, before a false alarm turns into the real thing and people wind up dead and injured.”