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What a Year! Wrapping Up 2016

As we conclude the year and look back on its major events, including a tumultuous presidential campaign, loss of cultural icons, unprecedented acts of violence against law enforcement, domestic and international terrorist attacks, and continuing unrest and wars overseas, LAXPD officers are acutely aware of the lives we protect daily. In 2016, LAAPOA maintained its crucial role as a reliable subject-matter expert on airport policing issues, driving meaningful dialogue on aviation security measures at the local, state and national levels, often in collaboration with the American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO). Here is a roundup of the topics we brought to the forefront during the year through press releases, social media and direct outreach.

February

  • Questioned why LAX airport management had not made substantive progress on addressing security gaps highlighted by the after-action report of the November 1, 2013, shooting
  • Called for immediate congressional action to address the growing number of drone–airplane encounters at airports after an FAA announcement that there are now more registered drones than registered airplanes
  • Called for screening every single person who comes to work in the airport
  • Questioned why, despite being the No. 1 terrorist target on the West Coast and second-busiest airport in the country, serving a record-breaking 74.9 million passengers in 2015, LAX has fewer officers patrolling the airport than in 2010
  • Continued the push for new patrol cars and motorcycles for LAXPD officers
  • Laid out how LAWA’s failure to holistically approach public safety funding  resulted in lower compensation for its majority-minority department and challenged LAWA to acknowledge and tackle these issues
  • Created a series of “Help Wanted” ads for a chief of police who would advocate for officers, and better security protocols and equipment  

March

  • Reiterated calls for the implementation of a 300-foot rule at screening checkpoints, prior practice at LAX and a security gap highlighted during the 2013 shooting
  • Questioned why, over two years after that event, airport 9-1-1 calls still aren’t sent directly to airport police
  • Called attention to perimeter breaches at LAX and Van Nuys airports, asking management to address this vulnerability
  • Renewed call for 100% employee screening after a flight attendant was caught smuggling cocaine at LAX
  • Re-emphasized calls for improved security, including officers assigned to checkpoints, real-time police access to airport security cameras and screening of all airport employees
  • After terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium, stated that all American airports and overseas facilities need to bolster security and policing efforts
  • After a drone came within 200 feet of a plane preparing to land at LAX, called for airports and the FAA to roll out systems capable of detecting a drone, identifying the operator and mitigating the threat

May

  • Made recommendations to secure TSA screening areas, including having an officer stationed within 300 feet of a checkpoint and law enforcement canine detection teams at each terminal of major airports
  • In anticipation of the summer travel season and long wait times, advised that the TSA should remain focused on its primary function of baggage and passenger screening, leaving law enforcement duties to airport police
  • Suggested TSA place more screeners, and open and staff all checkpoints at peak hours to decrease wait times
  • Warned against utilization of canines by the TSA, pointing out that their teams do not have a high degree of detection accuracy and have never identified explosives on a traveler, and that their protocols create additional security risks
  • Called on lawmakers to refocus the TSA’s attention and resources on its core mission: screening passengers and cargo
  • Examined death penalty initiatives working their way toward the November election ballot, and urged voters to reform the death penalty system, not repeal it

June and July

  • After the attack at Istanbul Airport and amid the Fourth of July travel rush, repeated calls for airport police to have real-time access to all closed-circuit security camera systems at airports
  • Called on the inspector general to investigate corruption within the Department  after the assistant chief went on a leave of absence following a criminal investigation and plea deal
  • Highlighted the need for an updated police station capable of meeting the growing public safety needs of LAX’s expansion

August

  • After false reports of gunfire created chaos at JFK Airport in New York, reiterated requests for camera-system access, armed law enforcement officers stationed near TSA screening areas and tougher perimeter security, including mobile airport police patrols to supplement technology solutions
  • Restated these requests after a similar scare at LAX sent panicked passengers running from terminals and onto the tarmac

September

  • Asked lawmakers to support the Checkpoint Safety Act of 2016
  • Asserted that TSA-led canine teams were jeopardizing passenger safety due to lack of power and authority to arrest, detain or mitigate threats
  • Called for the installation of secondary barriers on cockpit doors and voiced strong endorsement of the Saracini Aviation Safety Act
  • Outlined how the LAPD’s controversial “Preservation of Life” award (for not using deadly force during a dangerous encounter) presents a perilous quandary for officers and jeopardizes their safety

October

  • Questioned why airport security spending was still a low priority in light of 10 U.S. passenger airlines reporting huge pre-tax profits in the first half of 2016
  • In response to a TSA request for information to civilian third parties regarding canine teams, maintained that police should be the only entity at airports to utilize explosive detection canines
  • Encouraged members and citizens to exercise their right to vote, and provided an election guide that included the following law-enforcement-related measures:  
    • Prop 57, increasing parole chances for felons convicted of “nonviolent” crimes (opposed by LAAPOA but passed by voters)
    • Prop 62, repealing the death penalty (opposed by LAAPOA and rejected by voters)
    • Prop 63, prohibiting possession of large-capacity magazines and requiring background checks for ammunition purchases (opposed by LAAPOA but passed)
    • Prop 64, legalizing marijuana and hemp for recreational use (opposed by LAAPOA but passed)
    • Prop 66, reforming death penalty procedures (supported by LAAPOA and passed)

It’s important to remember that there were many accomplishments in 2016 that bode well for the future of our department, including the conclusion of successful negotiations with salary increases and base-wage parity adjustments. In September, LAWA addressed concerns about the vehicle fleet and purchased new vehicles, already deployed in the field. Talks of a new police station have begun with LAWA management and planning for a new shooting range is underway. LAAPOA has an energized Board of Directors with some new faces joining the leadership team, and they are sure to have fresh ideas for the direction of our organization.

We are hopeful that 2017 will be a year of more gains, fewer losses and more unity.

Enjoy the remaining days of 2016, stay safe and have a happy new year!

 

 

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