Cost-cutting measures have made the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) "more vulnerable to a terrorist attack than at any time since 9/11," two local union organizations have alleged.
The allegation came from the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association (APOA) and Employees International Union Local 721 ( EIUL), the Los Angeles Times reported. Cost-cutting reductions in deployment of security in Traffic Control and in the Central Terminal area, severe cuts to training budgets, and replacement of vehicles and equipment have combined to make LAX more vulnerable, APOA President Marshall McClain and EIUL President Julie Butcher said in a letter to airport police chief George R. Centeno, the paper said.
Officials for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), which operates LAX, disagreed with the unions. "There is no evidence to support allegations ... of budget reductions or staff cutbacks at LAX airport police," Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, told the paper. "LAX remains one of the safest airports in the world and one of the safest areas in Southern California due to LAWA's continuing commitment to staff, train and equip airport police," Lindsey said.
The number of sworn police officers has grown from 263 in 2002 to 447 today, according to airport officials. The police budget has gone up annually since 9/11 and was increased by about 3.4 million dollars, or 3.5 percent, for fiscal year 2010-11, the officials said. Airport officials also said there has been no reduction in the number of random vehicle checks -- about 22,000 monthly -- and that LAX has met or exceeded the police deployment requirements of the federal Transportation Security Administration, which monitors the security program at LAX.