Recent warnings by an anti-terror expert regarding the use of drones as weapons to bring down aircraft and the worldwide increase in terrorist activity, particularly as it relates to aircraft and airports, reinforce calls by the American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO) for stricter oversight of drones and heightened security at our nation's airports.
With the holiday season upon us, experts are predicting drones will be a favorite gift, and sales are expected to top one million. The rise in sales, coupled with the current unsettled global climate, creates a unique and opportune environment for those who seek to disrupt air travel and/or impose severe harm to America.
Given the potential for the nefarious use of drones in our airports' airspace, it is important that policy makers take immediate steps to secure the airspace in and around airports to ensure the safety of the traveling public and prevent possible accidents, or attacks against airplanes. The FAA recently announced it is testing technology that can identify the drone and its operator and not interfere with any airport operations and communications. The capability to identify the operator is a game changer since it gives law enforcement the ability to determine the motivation of the UAS operator and will serve as a strong deterrent to voyeurs and those wishing to inflict harm. In this regard, the AAAPO calls on Congress to prohibit the use of drones near airports, and to seek technological solutions, like the one tested by the FAA, that prevent drones from entering the airspace near airports.
Furthermore, the Russian Metrojet bombing, which is suspected to have been carried out by an airport employee, bolsters the AAAPO's repeated calls for 100% screening of airport employees, including TSA. This common sense security mitigation technique,already applied to all travelers, has the potential to stop an "insider" attack, as it would require each employee, and their belongings, be fully screened. AAAPO believes that total employee screening should be implemented at all major airports in the United States, and that it is a practical first step towards increasing the safety of our airports.
As drone incidents involving airports and aircraft increase exponentially, and given the current geopolitical environment, the AAAPO urges Congress to implement public policy that ensures airports are protected from intentional and unintentional drone interference and to require the screening of all airport employees, to include TSA.
The Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association (LAAPOA) represents the sworn police officers and firefighters of the Los Angeles Airport Police Department assigned to protect and serve Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT) and Van Nuys Airport (VNY). For more information on LAAPOA, please visit laapoa.com.
About the American Alliance of Airport Police Officers
The American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO) is comprised of rank-and-file airport police officers (including many dual police/aircraft rescue firefighters) who stand as the first line of defense against terrorist attacks, hijackings and other criminal activity at our nation's airports. We seek to promote security and safety for the traveling public, visitors and airport employees by highlighting best practices and identifying areas for improvement and proposed solutions for our nation's airport security deployment. AAAPO focuses on regulatory issues that promote our efforts to provide the most advanced and cutting-edge service innovations and security processes in our nation and the world. Our organization represents thousands of sworn law enforcement officers across the United States beholden only to this mission. We are unencumbered by neither political nor managerial constraints that would prevent us from promoting sound public safety policy.