Aviation Police Officers Ask for Guns to Bolster Security

Aviation Police Officers Ask for Guns to Bolster Security

The union representing aviation police officers at Chicago’s two airports is asking Mayor Rahm Emanuel to bolster security by allowing officers to carry guns.

Investigations have found that hundreds of aviation police officers are not armed and are often taught to “run and hide” in the event of an active shooter.

A longstanding policy prohibits those aviation police officers from carrying a gun even though they are certified law enforcement officers. About 300 of them work along with armed Chicago police, which is the primary law enforcement agency at both airports.

Matt Brandon, secretary-treasurer or Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union, wrote a letter to Emmanuel stating, “The Safety of the flying public that utilize the Midway and/or O’Hare airports, and the APOs (aviation police officers) who are an integral part of the security of these airports is at high risk for compromise.”

Brandon argues that the “run and hide” technique that aviation police officers are taught goes against everything that is taught in the Chicago Police Academy, that the “ostrich approach to attacks on the flying public and employees/personnel at Midway and O’Hare airports cannot be part of any rational security strategy.

In a statement to CNN Wednesday, a spokesman for the aviation department cited numerous security awards for Chicago's airports and wrote, "The multi-layered security approach at O'Hare and Midway Airports is working to keep passengers, employees, and security officials safe. The close coordination between Aviation Security Officers, the Chicago Police Department, TSA, U.S. Customs and Border Control, and the FBI has a successful track record of keeping the airports secure."

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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