LAX shooting: LAPD chief calls for more curbside cameras at airport

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said he would like to improve curbside camera surveillance at LAX, noting that police “struggled” to determine how a gunman arrived at the airport in last week’s deadly rampage.

The chief’s comments came nearly a week after Paul Anthony Cianca, 23, allegedly opened fire in the airport’s Terminal 3, killing one TSA agent and wounding three others before he was shot and taken into custody by airport police.

The shooting has since sparked a nationwide debate over airport security. Some have called for armed police officers at security checkpoints. Others -- including the union that represents TSA workers -- have argued at least some of the agents who screen bags and passengers for bombs and weapons should carry guns.


Local leaders have also called for a review of security policies at LAX.

While Beck stressed “you can never get 100% safety,” he said he and LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon would be “looking at everything” to determine what improvements could be made. On Beck’s short list? “Better cameras,” along with ways to increase security for TSA officers.

Earlier this week, Beck said he didn’t believe the American public would accept the level of airport security needed to prevent such attacks, such as car searches at military-style checkpoints. The chief reiterated those comments again Thursday.

“If we were to search every car that went into the airport, it would take you days to get on a plane,” Beck said. “That’s not reasonable. So you have to come up with other ways.”

Beck said he believed there were enough armed officers available for LAX, which has its own police force that works with the LAPD. He said he thought additional technology would be an important factor in enhanced security.

“I don’t think just having a picket line of armed security is the answer. I think that we have to have electronic barriers and better surveillance and better coordination of surveillance,” he said. “And all that is very expensive. But I think this incident points out the need.”

Authorities said Ciancia’s roommate gave him a ride to the airport Friday morning but did not learn of the shooting until after he returned to their Sun Valley apartment. Beck said investigators trying to determine how the suspect got to the airport were “hindered to some extent by not having CCTV.”

Beck said his department would review its handling of the incident and present an after-action report to both the Police Commission and city officials. Airport officials have also pledged to review their response.

On the federal level, TSA Administrator John S. Pistole met with security experts at the agency’s Virginia headquarters Thursday “in order to engage in a dialogue about airport security policies and protocols,” the agency said. The meeting included state and local law enforcement, federal officials and other “aviation stakeholders,” the agency said.

Gerardo I. Hernandez, a 39-year-old father of two, became the first TSA agent slain in the line of duty during the rampage. A public memorial for Hernandez is scheduled Tuesday at the L.A. Sports Arena, and the TSA said airports across the country would observe a moment of silence in his honor at 9:20 a.m. Friday -- the one-week mark of the shooting.


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