The state of California has long been known for the diverse groups of people who make up its communities, and the city Los Angeles is no different. In recent months, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has crafted various policies to promote racial diversity and equality among all levels of government, but has remained silent on the issue as it relates to LAX, the nation’s second-busiest airport, and its majority-minority airport police department.
Since 2015, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) Deputy Executive Director (DED) for Law Enforcement and Homeland Security David L. Maggard Jr. has exhibited leadership behavior that has created a toxic environment for officers under his regime, most notably for minorities. Numerous complaints and lawsuits have been filed against DED Maggard. The Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association (LAAPOA) has brought these issues to the attention of airport leadership, LAWA’s Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) and Los Angeles City Hall, yet these concerns have fallen on deaf ears and the culture of discrimination and retaliation created by DED Maggard has been allowed to fester.
“Our city is hungry for change, and we must knit racial justice … into the fabric of our policies, our institutions and our society,” said Mayor Garcetti, who claims that he is holding institutions accountable. The mayor says that the executive directive he signed on June 19 “… ensures our City leadership looks at every issue through a lens of racial justice, acts to end structural racism, and brings more Black Angelenos and people of color into the halls of government.”
While the mayor has made resounding proclamations on promoting racial equities, under this leadership he has allowed for an airport policing environment that undervalues, demoralizes and retaliates against minorities. Indeed, of the seven-member BOAC board, which the mayor appoints, only one is African-American. So, it is not surprising that after reviewing the many lawsuits and complaints against DED Maggard, the board decided on no action. They found no pattern of practice among the nine discriminatory lawsuits that have been filed against DED Maggard.
“If you take all of the discriminatory lawsuits that have been filed against any Law Enforcement and Homeland Security DED in LAWA’s history and combine them, they still do not reach the number of those filed against David L. Maggard Jr.,” LAAPOA President Marshall McClain says. “This is the very definition of a ‘repeated pattern of practice of racial inequities’ and the type of leadership that our nation is pushing against. It is also the type of leadership that leads to bad decisions and consequential mistakes.
“Right now, LAXPD has a strong chief in Cecil W. Rhambo Jr., who is someone our officers respect and look up to as a true leader. LAAPOA predicts that much like LAWA’s former CEO, who was African-American and female, if BOAC continues its mindset of devaluation of minority leaders at LAWA, Chief Rhambo will eventually feel so undermined and unsupported that he, too, may leave LAWA,” McClain continues. “We cannot let that happen. We must engage on every level to call out DED Maggard when he treats minorities with disdain, particularly since it is evident that neither the mayor, BOAC nor LAWA executives will do so. They need to match what they say in public, and in the broad platitudes they send to LAWA employees on zero tolerance to do the right thing. It is time for Maggard to go, and we will not stop until our voices are heard.”