LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — LA Police Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday he would like to step up surveillance at LAX in the wake of last week’s fatal shooting.
Police say TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez was killed and six others were injured when suspected gunman Paul Anthony Ciancia, who was targeting TSA officers, opened fire at approximately 9:20 a.m. last Friday.
While officers have been commended for their response time, Beck told reporters during a news conference at the LAPD’s Olympic Area Station on Thursday the incident pointed to a weakness in surveillance equipment.
“We could have better camera surveillance. One of the things we struggled with was trying to find out how he [the gunman] got to the airport. We’ve got to look at the safety of our TSA folks. There are ways to make where they work safer. There can be bullet-resistant material on the podiums. We can look at whether they should wear vests,” he said.
Beck, underlining the need for federal assistance, also dismissed calls for more armed presence at the airport, insisting that potential shooters would simply pick places where law enforcement isn’t present. The TSA’s union earlier this week called for some officers to be armed in order to improve security.
“I think that the federal role in this should be in helping us with some security systems. I don’t think just having a picket line of armed security is the answer,” he said.
“I think that we have to have electronic barriers, and better surveillance, and better coordination of surveillance, and all that is very expensive. But I think that this incident points out that need,” he continued, noting that there can never be “100 percent safety.”
TSA administrator John Pistole said it is a time of great reflection for his agency as well, and echoed Beck’s call for increased federal resources.
“I think that the federal role in this should be in helping us with some security systems,” he said.
Earlier this week, Beck ruled out searching vehicles at LAX, saying he did not believe members of the public would permit such an intrusion.
Thursday, he said public safety officials are looking at “other ways” to tighten security, such as conducting random checks.
Police, fire and LAX operations staff are preparing an “after-action report and improvement plan” that will examine the city’s response to the shooting.
A preliminary report is expected to be presented to the Airport Commission Dec. 17.
Hernandez was the first TSA officer to be killed in the line of duty.
TSA officers across the nation will hold a moment of silence in his honor of Friday morning at 9:20 a.m.
The FBI’s investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
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