SAN PEDRO (CBSLA.com) – The Port of Los Angeles is adding security personnel, among other changes, after a suspected car thief broke in and climbed a 17-story crane last week before plunging to his death.
Port officials announced Friday extra security guards, road barriers and fences have been added to the West Basin Container Terminal — which was breached by the suspect – and its 26 other terminals.
Workers and visitors will have to get through more private security guards and gates. More signage and cones are in place to direct drivers to the guards will be checking identification.
Los Angeles Port Police have also added patrols.
These are part of what it termed “stringent modifications to access points,” considered interim steps while the port examines long-term solutions.
“When there is any threat of security, any breaches here at our port complex, it’s a threat of our local, national economy,” L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino said at a Friday news conference.
Officials noted that while the private security guards do not carry weapons, the L.A. Port Police, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Coast Guard officers that patrol the harbor are armed.
On Aug. 16, a man drove through a security checkpoint at the port after leading authorities on a high speed chase through Long Beach in a car believed to have been stolen from a San Bernardino dealership.
Mark Mendoza, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13, told reporters Friday that workers had been ready to take down the suspect, but were told to stand down.
“Our reputation is physical, we have a reputation out there, and we will engage,” Mendoza said.
The suspect drove around the port, then exited the vehicle and climbed onto a crane in the China Shipping Yard, located in West Basin. After a bizarre three-hour standoff, during which he stripped naked, he either fell or jumped to his death onto a container ship, police said.
“There is nothing more important than the safety of the nation’s largest container port, and the great workers that we have here,” Port Executive Director Gene Seroka said Friday.
The 7,500-acre Port of L.A. has 43 miles of waterway. $272 billion worth of cargo passed through in 2016. It ranks No. 1 in the nation in terms of the container volume that comes in.