Patrick McGreevy, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times
Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
All Rights Reserved
A dispute over who should be in charge of policing at Los Angeles International Airport was settled -- at least for now -- with an agreement reached Tuesday between the LAPD and the airports agency police over sharing responsibilities.
The settlement resulted in the airport police union agreeing to a temporary delay in proposed state legislation that would boost the power of the airport officers, and which had been opposed by LAPD Chief William J. Bratton. The chief said it would have created confusion about who is in charge.
The new memorandum of understanding was announced by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who said it delineates the role each police force will play in keeping LAX safe and sets higher employment and training standards for the airport police.
"This agreement also puts to rest any concerns raised publicly about possible confusion in the chain of command in the event of an emergency at L.A. International Airport," Villaraigosa said. "It puts the safety and security of the traveling public first and foremost."
The city airports agency, Los Angeles World Airports, maintains a police force of 400 officers. In addition, the Los Angeles Police Department deploys about 50 officers to LAX every day, with others assigned as needed.
The agreement designates the airport police as first responders to most calls: making arrests, conducting preliminary investigations and writing crime reports. But the LAPD will be responsible for carrying out most follow-up investigations of crimes at the airport.
In death investigations, crimes involving weapons, terrorist incidents and hostage situations, the airport police will immediately notify the LAPD, which will be responsible for the preliminary and follow-up investigations unless and until relieved by federal law enforcement, which plays a key role in major incidents at airports.
The pact, similar to one approved in 1988, adds requirements for the LAPD to notify the airport police about its operations on airport property.
The agreement also calls for new airport police officers to go through the rigorous training provided to LAPD recruits, to the extent possible, and for both agencies to go through some joint training on airport issues.
The airport police agency also "agrees to use the same hiring and selection standards for its sworn officers as are used by the LAPD," including undergoing a polygraph test before a background check.
Bratton, who failed to persuade voters last year to approve a takeover of the airport police by the LAPD, said the improved hiring standards and training would allow the two agencies to work better together.
In response to the agreement, the airport police persuaded Assemblyman Dario Frommer (D-Glendale) to delay action Tuesday on a bill that would have given them the same level of authority as the LAPD to respond to bomb threats, run criminal background checks and manage crowds at the airport.
But union officials said that authority was still needed, so they will have the bill reintroduced after the Legislature's July recess, which could reignite the LAX policing controversy.
June 28, 2006
LAPD and airport police reach accord