Many of the patrol vehicles used by the Los Angeles International Airport Police Department (LAXPD) are in a state of disrepair and unsafe. There is no clearer example of this than a 2014 car accident involving one of our officers at Ontario Airport.
The officer, a 19 year veteran of the LAXPD who also served over 21 years in the Marine Corps, received severe injuries requiring him to be airlifted when the air bag of his police vehicle deployed. The car, which was over 10 years old and had nearly 150,000 miles, was also believed to be under a recall notice. Unfortunately, we cannot verify the recall status of the vehicle because it is unclear where the wrecked vehicle is now being housed. Had his patrol car not been old and overdue for salvage, it is very possible that our officer could have escaped the crash without the severity of injuries he is still attempting to recover from.
This case is emblematic of airport management’s lack of prioritization of safety and security equipment and issues. For years, LAAPOA has raised concerns regarding the state of our vehicle fleet. While efforts are finally underway to replace some of the fleet, we continue to deal with many cars that have well over 100,000 miles (and some exceeding 250,000 miles), non-functioning seatbelts and broken seats, among other problems. Furthermore, many of our vehicles are in service around-the-clock because there are not enough cars in the fleet. Officers must return to the police station prior to the end of their shift to hand off their vehicle to officers on the next shift. Given that these vehicles are in constant use, it takes a toll on the lifespan and functionality of the cars.
“All we are asking is that we are provided with the basic and necessary resources to perform our duties—like having functioning patrol cars,” said Marshall McClain, President of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association. “A process must be established to ensure their service and replacement is in regular order before another unnecessary accident or injury happens to one of our officers.”