Los Angeles airport police chief changed officer postings at TSA checkpoints

Police walk outside Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport Nov. 1, 2013.
AP Photo

LOS ANGELES The deadly rampage at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday has reignited an ongoing debate about security procedures at the airport, CBS Los Angeles reports.

The crux of the issue is the placement of armed airport police officers.

The shooting began at the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint in Terminal 3, when police say 23-year-old Paul Ciancia pulled a semi-automatic rifle out of his bag.

Recent changes made at LAX have armed officers roving around the terminal and required to be within a five-minute response time instead being stationed within 300 feet of every screening area, Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association told CBS Los Angeles.

"They're roving throughout the terminal as part of their patrol at the screening stations," McClain said. "Up until earlier this year, the change was that our police officers at LAX were at the screening stations."

The TSA officer who died in the shooting has been identified as 39-year-old Gerardo Hernandez. He is the first TSA officer ever to be killed in the line of duty.

At a news conference with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other city officials Friday, Chief of Airport Police Patrick Gannon defended the changes and said they wouldn't have an effect on the safety and security at LAX.

"Many of you have probably traveled through an airport over the years and saw a police officer at a podium just behind the screening area," said Gannon. "About a year ago, when I got here, I thought that our officers needed to be out in front of the screening area rather than behind the screening area."

McClain said the two officers who shot the suspected gunman had recently completed training in simulated exercises similar to Friday's incident.