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AIRPORT POLICE AT FULL STRENGTH FORCE WAS TRIPLED IN PAST 2 1/2 YEARS.

Byline: Alex Dobuzinskis Staff Writer

BURBANK - The Bob Hope Airport has a full complement of 30 in-house police officers for the first time since stricter security standards were put in place in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

In nearly tripling the size of its in-house force since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the airport no longer has to rely on off-duty officers from police departments in Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena to supplement its ranks.

``Tripling the size of a police department in 2 1/2 years is fraught with danger ... in a human-resources sense,'' said airport Police Chief Michael Post.

``You just have to make sure that in your zeal to get people on board that you pay a lot of attention to make sure that your hiring standards remain high, that your background research remains diligent, that there are no shortcuts on training.''

The airport spent $1.9 million reimbursing neighboring cities for police services in fiscal 2002-03. Those costs fell to $865,000 this past year as more in-house officers were hired.

This fiscal year, the airport Police Department will spend $2.7 million on equipment, wages and benefits and training for its force.

About two-thirds of the officers in the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority Police Department are new to airport-security jobs, Post said.

Officer Alex Nobel, 31, for example, worked as a waiter and bartender for about a decade before joining the airport department 1 1/2 years ago. He also has an interest in planes and has a private pilot's license and a background in aircraft maintenance.

The in-house staffing levels allow Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena to keep their patrol officers at home.

``Their assistance since 9-11 has been greatly appreciated because we would not have been able to operate at the required staffing levels,'' said Charles Lombardo, president of the airport commission.

And the cooperation between the cities and the airport could prove helpful in the future.

``The bond between the three cities and the airport police, I believe, was strengthened since they all were working together seven days a week,'' Lombardo said.

Alex Dobuzinskis, (818) 546-3304

alex.dobuzinskis(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 27, 2004
Words:359
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