Security experts have concluded Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is safer today than after 9/11 thanks to $1.6 billion of investment into security at the gateway, but warned more could be done.
The Blue Ribbon Panel – set up last November by the Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa – conducted a ‘top-to-bottom’ security review of the airport and found that the airport was “safer today than it was following 9/11 due in part to $1.6 billion that has been invested in public safety and security at the airport over the past ten years.”
However, the 27-member panel – which included experts from homeland security, law enforcement, academia, anti-terrorism, technology, and emergency management and was chaired by Lourdes Baird, a retired federal judge – set out a list of recommendations for the airport to make the gateway even safer.
Mayor Villaraigosa said: “I appointed this panel because we are committed to making LAX the safest, most secure airport in its class around the world.
“We have already implemented or are in progress of implementing a vast majority of the panel’s recommendations and we will be taking concrete steps to further enhance security and protect the flying public.”
The panel provided recommendations in five areas including counterterrorism and homeland security, law enforcement, emergency management, fire operations, and IT.
As a result, the Mayor has also announced an action plan to further improve security at the gateway and to address the recommendations in the report.
This includes hiring a deputy executive director for public safety as well as improving collaboration between LAPD and LAWAPD.
Villaraigosa also wants to update emergency management procedures at the gateway as well as improve the physical security at the airport.
Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director at LAWA, said: “The safety and security of everyone at LAX is my number one priority.
“We intend to remain a very safe and secure airport. To do so, we must be vigilant in our public safety efforts, evolve our security measures to meet emerging threats and constantly evaluate whether we are doing the right things in the right way.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Villaraigosa also announced that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has awarded LAX $13.5 million in funding for an enhanced closed-circuit television (CCTV) system designed to strengthen security at the airport.
Among others, security projects over the last ten years at LAX have included the construction of a $13.9 million state-of-the-art Airport Response and Coordination Center (ARCC), as well as the installation of Automated Imaging Technology in every terminal.
Elsewhere, following one of the Panel’s earlier recommendations, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) has appointed Arif Alikhan as the new deputy director for law enforcement and homeland security at the airport.
He has been tasked with all security and public safety matters for LAWA and will work with LAPD and the other agencies responsible for security at the airport.