LAPD CONTROL OF LAX URGED AIRPORT POLICE NOT PREPARED FOR TERRORIST ATTACK, CITY COUNCILMAN SAYS.
Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss asked the Police Commission on Tuesday to consider recommending that the LAPD take over police operations at LAX, saying the city's airport police are not prepared for a terrorist attack.
Weiss, a former federal prosecutor who has become the anti-terrorism point man for the City Council, said a unified command would narrow the gap between the capabilities and assets of the airport police and those of the Los Angeles Police Department.
``The real question is, who will be prepared in the event al-Qaida attacks again?'' Weiss said.
The panel asked police Chief William Bratton - making his first appearance at a commission meeting - to review the 283-page report and return with his recommendation in 30 days.
Police Commissioner Rick Caruso said the change would require voters to approve a charter amendment.
``There is not a coordinated effort when you have two levels of command,'' Caruso said. ``This is not an attack on the airport police, but people who go to LAX deserve the best protection.
``Our officers are better trained and equipped to deal with this issue. It's a whole new world after 9-11,'' he said.
Weiss said he introduced a measure to the council to consolidate police operations after a July 4 rampage at LAX, in which an Egyptian immigrant fatally shot two people at Israel's El Al ticket counter before two private security guards gunned him down.
The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners recently passed a resolution indicating its desire to keep the airport police separate from the LAPD.
``Our feeling is we believe the nature of policing between the airport police and the LAPD is fundamentally different,'' airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles said.
In June 1999, voters approved the unified City Charter, which stated that the airport police and Los Angeles Port Police should remain under the control of the Department of Airports and the Harbor Department, respectively. The Department of Airports is attempting to change the status of the airport police to grant its personnel full peace officer status.
The report, written by former LAPD interim Chief Martin Pomeroy, said that while the airport police are responsible as the first responders on airport property, the LAPD is responsible for providing specialized services and conducting criminal investigations.
``The (LAPD) believes that the Los Angeles World Airport Police do not have the personnel, training or experience necessary to effectively manage the full spectrum of policing responsibilities,'' Pomeroy wrote. ``Allowing them to do so at this time would increase the potential for city liability.''
The Police Commission also heard a report by LAPD Cmdr. Robert B. Hansohn recommending that the LAPD submit bids to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that would expand its role in providing security at MTA facilities and on buses and trains.
The LAPD currently provides those services within the city's jurisdiction, while the county Sheriff's Department provides security in areas outside the city. The Sheriff's Department is seeking to take over all MTA security operations, while the LAPD would like to expand into some areas outside city limits.