This Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer travel season. Air travel is expected to rise 4% this summer compared to last year, and our nation’s airports will be busier than ever.
While airport police are prepared and ready for these growing crowds, forefront on our minds is the heightened threat environment overseas and remaining vigilant here at home. This week’s concert bombing in Manchester, recent terror attacks near Westminster Palace in London and Paris’ Orly airport, and the deadly bomb explosion at a subway station in St. Petersburg, Russia, remind us that we must remain strong in the face of evil. Attacks on transportation hubs and areas where large groups gather have increased dramatically in the past few years, and airports have been among the top targets for terrorists.
As we saw with the attack at Paris’ Orly airport and previous airport incidents in Turkey and Belgium, reaching an airplane is a priority objective for those looking to disrupt our way of life. So, we must continue to be aggressive in protecting our airports. However, airports pose a unique challenge, as they provide access to airplanes, which can be used as their own weapon of mass destruction by terrorists. Given the increasingly dangerous security environment, more can and should be done to ensure the safety of the traveling public, including stationing airport police near TSA screening areas, providing airport police real-time access to all cameras at airports and screening all airport employees.
These simple, commonsense recommendations, which the AAAPO has been consistent in seeking, can make the difference between life and death. Leaders and lawmakers who continue to choose to ignore these proposals are, in effect, gambling with the safety of the traveling public.
“Our condolences are with the families of those killed and injured in the Manchester attack,” said Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association and co-founder of AAAPO. “While all terrorist attacks are inexcusable, targeting children and young adults makes this attack even more heinous. With summer air travel gearing up, our sole motivation is to enhance the security of our airports — we must be two steps ahead of this madness to prevent it. Airport leaders, lawmakers and those who have the ability to support calls by rank and file should step up.”
“If even a single life is harmed in attacks like those in Manchester, our police officers are always motivated to improve and to do their best to make sure it never happens again,” said Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association and co-founder of the AAAPO. “The safety of people is what drives us. We need to be proactive in stopping threats, and the solutions we propose will help airport police stay ahead of terrorists.”
AAAPO wishes all travelers a safe holiday weekend.