After several reported incidents of alleged misconduct by Los Angeles Airport Police officers, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Jack Weiss, Dennis Zine, Tony Cardenas and Greig Smith introduced a measure Wednesday, November 24th, to change the city charter to remove the guaranteed independence of the Airport Police Department.
If passed by the City Council, the measure would place an initiative on the May citywide election ballot that would bring the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) police under the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
“LAX is the region’s top terrorist target and we must provide an elite security force to protect it,” said Weiss.
“Changing the charter is the first step toward bringing the airport police under the control of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles City Council, so we can do what needs to be done to make LAX safer for everyone,” said Weiss.
While some LAPD officers are based at LAX, the first line of defense is the Airport Police Department.
Recently, a hidden camera investigation by the Channel 2 television station revealed officers who were scheduled for foot patrols lounging in other areas of the airport and leaving the airport for extended periods of time, said Weiss.
Zine said his personal observations at LAX caused him to seriously question the multiple agencies charged with providing and coordinating airport security operations.
“Recent media reports reflecting a lack of leadership, supervision and unsatisfactory performance by airport police officers have forced me to examine the possibility of consolidating the airport police into the LAPD,” said Zine.
“Having integrity in the security of our airports is vital to the overall security of this city, and our options to enhance security at our airports should not be limited,” said Cardenas.
“Post 9/11 challenges have made a unified, strong police presence at LAX more crucial than ever,” said Smith.
The city charter underwent significant reform in the late 1990s, and now includes a charter section that specifies that airport police are governed by the airport and maintained as a separate department, said Weiss.
This provision prevents the takeover of the LAX police by LAPD and prohibits the City Council from providing meaningful oversight of airport police officers, Weiss said.
“Recent hidden camera news reports have shown airport police skipping their patrols, taking extensive breaks at Del Taco,” said Weiss.
“Al-Qaida doesn’t hang out at Del Taco,” added Weiss.
The proposal will be reviewed by the City Council Commerce, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which is chaired by Cardenas, and also reviewed by the City Council Public Safety Committee.