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LAPD to senators: It’s folly to meddle

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first_img Bob Baker is president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Given that Los Angeles politicians are not known for keeping a low profile, it is confounding that there has been little outcry in Los Angeles about Assembly Bill 1882, which is aimed solely at increasing the authority of the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department. The LAWA police have used an end run around the city to go straight to the state. The Assembly passed the bill in late May, and it will go before the Senate as early as June 13. This isn’t just a housekeeping issue. Giving the LAWA police the authority they are looking for would put Angelenos and travelers at risk. It would prevent the experienced Los Angeles Police Department from taking charge in any catastrophe or natural disaster at the airport, and instead put that responsibility into the hands of a small police force that has limited experience beyond handling unattended baggage, shoplifting and dignitary escorts. Right now, LAWA police have concurrent jurisdiction over the airport, meaning that in a disaster based at Los Angeles International Airport, they would have to coordinate their response with the LAPD. Under the change they are seeking, they would have primary jurisdiction at the airport and would have to invite the LAPD to work with them. Chains of command are crucial in an emergency. The lesson of Hurricane Katrina is how much can go wrong when the chains of command are interrupted, when emergency responders are not on the same wavelength, and when the first stage of the emergency response is an elaborate dance about who is in charge. To remove the airport from a chain of command that leads to the LAPD chief is to invite disaster. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2There are also training issues. The LAWA Police Department has almost no recent field experience with major incidents. The airport police might be trained to respond to emergencies, but it is their LAPD counterparts who have the real-world experience in actually responding. Without concurrent jurisdiction, these qualified LAPD officers would only be able to respond if they were invited by LAWA police. Otherwise, the LAPD is literally forced to stop at the airport border. The LAWA police pride themselves on being a proactive instead of a reactive force, but in the case of an emergency, Los Angeles needs the ability to bring in police officers who know how to respond and react. The LAWA police understand the issues of airport crimes, and the LAPD agrees that they need more autonomy at the airport and surrounding streets. The LAPD has offered to sign a revised memorandum of agreement with LAWA that would give the LAWA police jurisdictional clarity. But, instead, LAWA has gone to the state, thinking that state legislators would give them what they want, without regard for what is best for Los Angeles. We hope that state senators will come to the realization that the Legislature has no business legislating an agreement between two local law enforcement jurisdictions. We hope senators will return this issue to the city, where it belongs. Then, we urge our colleagues at the LAWA police to sign the memorandum of agreement that sets out guidelines for how the two police departments can work together. With this agreement updated and in place, we can move forward to the very real business of preparing for the kind of emergencies that we hope will never happen. last_img read more