As we prepare for this season of gratitude by taking stock of all that we’re thankful for and the ways we can help those who are less fortunate, many of us are looking forward to reuniting with far-flung friends and family members for Thanksgiving. That means the number of travelers is expected to reach unprecedented highs, both in the air and on the roads. With the crowds comes the potential for chaos and, unfortunately, a tempting opportunity for criminals. LAAPOA reminds you to keep safety in mind as you plan your celebrations, to help make this holiday a happy one for you and your loved ones.
As the pandemic recedes, people are becoming increasingly confident about getting back out into the world. In fact, the Automobile Club of Southern California predicts that not only will the region’s number of Thanksgiving travelers increase 3.5% over last year, but it will actually exceed 2019 levels. AAA expects 55 million travelers to hit the roads nationwide November 17–26, and the TSA is preparing for 2.9 million people to pass through airports across the country. Locally, 3.9 million Southern Californians will opt to drive to their Thanksgiving destinations, while LAX is projected to see 2.5 million passengers during the 10-day holiday travel period — 300,000 more than in 2022.
With so many people rushing to reach their holiday gatherings within the same short window of time, traffic, long lines and delays are likely. While getting there on time is the goal, getting there safely is the most important consideration. As always, LAAPOA members and our fellow law enforcement officers will be sacrificing time away from their families throughout this season to protect our roads, airports, parks and other public spaces so our community members can enjoy the holidays in peace. To support that goal, please keep the following tips in mind:
- Be prepared: Stay up to date on traffic or weather conditions that might affect your trip, and allow plenty of extra time to reach your destination. Research your route, including factors such as construction and detours, parking and airport layout, public transportation options and alternate routes.
- Be safe: If you’re driving, make sure your vehicle maintenance is up to date and your tires and battery are in good condition. If flying, review the TSA guidelines for what can and can’t be packed, and be sure to leave firearms at home or safely stowed in checked luggage. Secure your home and vehicle before leaving, and avoid sharing extensive details with rideshare drivers or on social media about how long you’ll be gone.
- Be vigilant: At the airport, keep your wallet, ID and airplane boarding pass in a safe place at all times, never lose sight of your luggage and never watch a stranger’s bag or agree to transport something for them. On a road trip, never leave valuables in sight when you leave your vehicle, lock doors and windows, and be sure to park in a secure, heavily traveled and well-lit spot. Wherever you are, stay awake and alert, especially if traveling alone. If you hear a loud noise indicating violence in an airport or other crowded public area, move away from it and go to a quiet, safe place, like a bathroom. Follow the guidelines on how to handle an active-shooter situation, and make sure you obey any instructions provided by law enforcement.
Above all, we encourage you to pack your patience and kindness. Remember that everyone is dealing with the same travel challenges and doing their best, the employees serving you over the holidays are likely to be stressed and overworked, and any unexpected difficulties you encounter are probably not their fault. Getting agitated or aggressive not only won’t help, but can endanger you and your fellow travelers. This holiday is all about gratitude, so try to keep a positive outlook and focus on the good things.
“For Thanksgiving, we hope that the public will be mindful of the many ways in which law enforcement officers go above and beyond to keep them safe throughout this season and the whole year round,” LAAPOA President Marshall McClain says. “We give thanks to our members and our brothers and sisters in law enforcement for their courageous, tireless and selfless work, despite the ongoing scrutiny and danger they face. We are grateful to everyone who continues to back public safety and support LAAPOA in our mission of protecting our airports and our city. May this season be a time to reflect on our many blessings and share them generously with others.”
One way to do that is by making a charitable donation on November 28 in honor of Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to fostering generosity around the globe. We hope you will consider showing your support for LAAPOA’s nonprofit, the Los Angeles Airport Police Athletics & Activities League (LAAPAAL), which encourages and sponsors members and the surrounding communities to participate in athletics and charity events. You can also make a difference in the lives of peace officers and their families who have been tragically impacted by a line-of-duty death, near-fatal injury or catastrophic event by giving to PORAC Fund a Hero — including donating to two LAAPOA members who need our help, LAXPD Officers Teresa Arizaga (campaign closes November 27) and Geramie Eleazar (campaign closes December 18).