first_imgIn a serious break with Chief William Bratton, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Friday repudiated the chief’s strong public stand against stripping the LAPD of key responsibilities in emergencies at LAX and giving that authority to Airport Police. Villaraigosa said he also opposes Bratton’s efforts to eliminate the Los Angeles World Airport Police force and make its officers part of the Los Angeles Police Department. The mayor’s stand on security at Los Angeles International Airport put him squarely at odds with the chief and other top commanders as well as the Police Protective League, which represents rank-and-file officers. “I don’t associate myself with the remarks made by the chief (Thursday),” Villaraigosa said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2 “I have every confidence in his leadership and ability to resolve this in a timely way that meets his priorities and the city’s needs.” Villaraigosa, too, said he believes the differences can be resolved and he has begun talks in his office with both sides in the issue. “I am a consensus builder and I believe we can resolve the differences. “I am the mayor of the city of Los Angeles and have authority over both the airports and the LAPD,” he said. “I think we will work this out. I will continue to get both parties together to ensure we assign the areas of work for the LAPD and the LAWA police department.” Twice in the past six years, voters have indicated they want to keep the Los Angeles World Airports police force as a separate enforcement agency from the LAPD. Now, some say, Bratton is leading a turf war, trying to secure an agency where his officers can work overtime. Not so, says Bob Baker, the police union president. “It’s not about money. It’s not about pensions,” Baker said. “The real issue for us is what would happen with a terrorist attack and if the Airport Police would have the backing.” Baker said the issue should be taken out of Sacramento’s hands. “We’re saying, look, there needs to be a real honest discussion between the council and the Mayor’s Office,” he said. “This is a local issue. If the mayor believes it’s the right thing to do, then the mayor should send a letter to the Senate.” There are 59 LAPD officers stationed at LAX, including a captain, said LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon. The Airport Police force has about 400 members. In addition to responding to aircraft alerts, LAPD conducts investigative follow-ups. Vernon and Airport Police agree that the two units work in tandem on some issues, such as clearing terminals in the event of a bomb threat, and patrol. But airport officials dispute Bratton’s remarks that LAX’s police force is inadequate compared to the LAPD. “A lot of our officers are trained or have been with the LAPD,” said George Jarvis, president of the Los Angeles Airport Police Association. “We’re in compliance with our (Peace Officer Standards and Training) standards,” he said. “We’re constantly training. There’s no difference.” Jarvis said if a situation arose, the Airport Police would be the first responder, just like the LAPD in the city. “The only difference would be if there’s an explosive device,” Jarvis said. “We don’t have a bomb squad.” Bratton has questioned the screening process used to select Airport Police, saying recruits are not required to undergo a polygraph test. The Los Angeles Police Department’s application process requires potential recruits to undergo a polygraph test as part of the testing procedure, according to the LAPD’s Web site. Recruits planning to become part of the Airport Police are required to take a polygraph if a background check raises questions. “You are subject to be polygraphed,” Jarvis said. “There’s a lot of agencies that do it this way.” Airport Police officers undergo slightly more than five months of paramilitary training at Rio Hondo Community College; LAPD recruits undergo almost eight months. “Rio Hondo has high academic standards,” according to the school’s police academy Web site. “Cadets must successfully pass 26 … examinations on subjects such as law, patrol tactics, search and seizure, and evidence. They must display proficiency in other areas of training, including firearms, physical fitness, weaponless defense and emergency-vehicle operations.” Under the new bill, the Airport Police would be given authority to train bomb-sniffing dogs, using real explosive devices. “We’re just looking for more tools to do our job better,” Jarvis said. [email protected] (818) 713-3664160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img “I have a lot of respect for (Bratton). He is a great leader. But let me be clear about this: The men and women who work for the Los Angeles Airport Police are great professionals. They accompany me whenever I am (at LAX) and I feel very safe.” The mayor’s comments came a day after Bratton publicly fumed over legislation written by Assemblyman Dario Frommer, D-Glendale, that would upgrade the training of Airport Police officers to deal with explosives and other materials so they could take over the lead role in LAX emergencies from the LAPD. On Thursday, Bratton questioned, “Why would you trust the security of a major terrorist target to a police force … whose training, capabilities and hiring procedures are not up to those of the Los Angeles Police Department?” On Friday, Bratton indicated he had no intention of backing down to the mayor. “I very much appreciate the mayor’s comments, involvement and interest in addressing the issues that have been raised about security at LAX,” Bratton said in a statement. last_img read more