A few words of advice for our next Chief of Police
By Marshall McClain, President, LAAPOA
While the news is all a buzz with the upcoming corruption trial for former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, the retiring of former Los Angeles Police Chief NYPD Commissioner William Bratton and the continued calls from community activists for the firing of current LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers’ Association remains hopeful for real leadership for our department in the search for a new police chief.
Let’s be clear, Chief Patrick Gannon was a consistent disappointment to the rank-and-file police officers of the LAXPD.
Command staff and the rank-and-file don’t agree on much but we do agree with their nickname of JT as in “just there” for Chief Gannon.
When Gannon was around, and that wasn’t often, he outwardly appeared to spend the majority of his time helping his alma mater the LAPD to co-opt and infiltrate the LAXPD. When Gannon wasn’t making the case for why the LAXPD needed more LAPD officers in its ranks he was busy undermining the effectiveness and morale of both sworn and civilian alike within LAXPD.
From going on local television and admitting that LAX police officers do 99 percent of the work to publicly and privately fighting those same officers from achieving equal pay for that work, Chief Gannon was a police chief that suffered from conflicting loyalties leaving many of us to ponder why he ever left his beloved LAPD in the first place.
There have been ten consecutive times that the Los Angeles World Airports has gone outside of our ranks to promote command staff personnel. This would include three Deputy Directors of Law Enforcement, two Police Chiefs and 7 Assistant Chiefs including the most recent who have all been disappointments.
The next LAXPD chief of police must leave any past allegiances behind and make decisions solely on what is best for the LAXPD. We agree that alliances and partnerships are important, but in addition to public safety, the needs of our police department must be the most dominant factor if rank-and-file officers are to have any productive relationship with the next chief.
LAX is the nation’s second busiest airport and a key transportation mode for the region. With over 70 million passengers passing through, public safety remains the number one concern for Airport Police officers and we are committed to it. Our next leader should be a champion for the rank-and-file officers who put their lives on the line day in and day out and not an adversary. It seems odd to even have to say that, but after nearly four years of working under a Chief who seemed to have more faith and support for outside contracted police officers than his own—it must be said.
Our current LAX police facility was built in the 1950’s. It is in a state of disrepair and cannot accommodate the necessary technology for our police officers to do their jobs. Among other issues, the building’s air conditioning has broken multiple times, the water damage has ruined many of the walls leading to a mold infestation and cosmetic-only painting enhancements have done nothing to alleviate the structural problems associated with the building.
Across the way, we watch everyday our LAFD counterparts operate in a state of the art station at the airport. Despite these glaring differences, our former chief of police, Patrick Gannon, did nothing to demand that his officers have the basic facilities to do our jobs.
We need a Chief who will advocate for us. One who will look at the dilapidated and run down police station we operate in and understand that it’s unacceptable.
As LAWA conducts interviews this week to fill the Chief spot, the rank-and-file officers remain eager for real leadership in the department–leadership and commitment from someone who wants to be here, is here and advocates for us and not against us.