Press Release

American Alliance of Airport Police Officers

Behind the Scenes With the Airport Police

On the weekend before the anniversary of 9/11, CNBC has produced an important piece on airport policing at LAX that highlights the complex and multifaceted underpinnings of airport policing and what it takes to get it right. LAXPD Police Chief David Maggard, with his formidable team and the assistance of federal and local partners, oversees the constant evolution of LAX’s policing and security capabilities as the nation’s second largest airport continues to expand and service more passengers. The airport remains a high target for terrorism, and LAX is applying lessons learned from the 2013 shooting that killed a TSA agent and injured numerous others, to ensure not only a precise and decisive elimination of any threat, but to make sure that the airport has clear protocols in place for an orderly and safe post-incident environment.

Chief Maggard and LAXPD give an unprecedented behind-the-scenes view of LAX airport policing and its multiple layers — including the outwardly mundane but critical security functions — from accounting for every piece of knife cutlery at restaurants beyond TSA screening to insider threat assessments and apprehensions to random vehicle screenings and elite SWAT airport police training.

While LAX is the focus of CNBC’s segment, the police officers of the Port Authority PD employ similar programs. Every PAPD officer receives active shooter, first responder and incident command training so that all officers are prepared to immediately address any safety or security threat. The elite Emergency Services Units at LAX, JFK, Newark and LaGuardia are employed with a high level of specialized training in a variety of areas such as special weapons and tactics functions, bomb threat response, confined-space rescue, high-angle rescue, hazardous materials incidents (including chemical, biological and nuclear), motor vehicle accident extrications, suicide interventions, arrest warrant service and high-profile, dedicated counterterrorism patrols.

Airports like LAX and other large hubs like JFK, Newark, Dallas and LaGuardia airports take extensive precautions to ensure the safety of travelers. Between continual training and retraining of airport police officers, random screening and searching of airport employees, screening of passenger vehicles, overt and covert terminal operations, as well as monitoring threats around the country, airport policing encompasses many aspects of which the general public may not be aware and duties that would not be relevant or necessary for other policing agencies.

“LAAPOA and AAAPO applaud CNBC for doing this important piece, as well as LAWA’s Executive Director Deborah Flint and Police Chief Maggard for agreeing to pull back the veil on some of the less public functions that are used as tools by police to protect our airports,” says Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association and co-founder of AAAPO. “A big part of making the airport security response work in a complex and high-pressure environment is leadership structure and partnerships. LAXPD has worked hard to address the issues that plagued LAX post the police takedown of the 2013 TSA shooter, which left the airport in disarray due to three incident commands being established, even though our police did their jobs in textbook fashion. Constant vigilance and a strong chain of command in which all responders know their roles and who is in charge is key. The men and women of the LAXPD take our duties seriously. We do what we do so that you can move freely and without fear when you are on airport property. Your well-being is our priority.”

“This CNBC segment takes some of the mystery out of airport policing and touches upon some of the intense training that our officers undergo to do their jobs,” says Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association and co-founder of AAAPO. “Having also experienced our fair share of threats and their consequences, we know that it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work that most people will never see to make our airports safe. I reinforce the need for one incident commander, which Marshall alludes to, when a situation arises. The public looks toward police during these times of chaos to instill order and stability. CNBC did a good job here, and we thank them for providing a balanced piece on the hard work that airport police and our partners do.”