Editorial: Who needs airport cops who run and hide?

SHARE Editorial: Who needs airport cops who run and hide?

Police officers with the Department of Aviation have been told they will not be sent to handle disturbances in areas of the airport that are not secure, such as baggage claim. | AP file photo.

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The last thing we need at O’Hare and Midway airports is cops who run and hide when people’s lives are in danger. But that’s the order of the day for the hundreds of unarmed cops with the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Last week, hours after a shooter killed five people in the baggage claim area at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, officers working for the Chicago Department of Aviation, who aren’t allowed to carry guns while on duty, were told by email they would not be dispatched to disturbances in areas of the airports that are not secure, according to a CNN report Thursday. Areas for check-in and baggage claim are considered unsecured. The officers were told they would continue to handle disturbances in secure areas beyond the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint.

Thirteen months ago, CNN reported that unarmed officers at O’Hare and Midway are told to run or “hide” if shootings break out. Chicago Police officers, who are required to carry guns at the airports, are expected to handle dangerous disturbances.

This begs a question in these post-9/11 days: Why bother using police officers from the aviation department to keep the airports secure? Why not bring more Chicago Police Officers on board for safety’s sake? They are the gold standard to secure the airports.


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Airports today need the stiffest security measures. Unarmed cops at the airports are about as effective as mall security guards. There are substantial safety risks to both the unarmed officers and the public.

Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) last year proposed an ordinance to arm aviation officers, who go through police academy training and every year must be certified to carry a firearm, even though they can’t carry one on duty. His proposal was sent to the Committee for Public Safety, where “it is buried in the ocean,” like the Titanic, he says.

Chicago Police officers should take over. Leave no question about safety. The tens of millions of travelers who pass through O’Hare and Midway each year — nearly 77 million at O’Hare alone in 2015 — need to know that in dangerous times, cops aren’t going to run and hide.

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