LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A new CBS2 investigation has uncovered 126 security breaches at Los Angeles International Airport over the past six years.
CBS2’s David Goldstein obtained hundreds of pages of police reports detailing people who successfully made it through secure areas, some of whom made it out onto the runways.
“This is a story that needs to be told,” retired Federal Aviation Administration special agent Brian Sullivan told Goldstein.
CBSLA obtained the reports through a public records request. However, about a month later, LAX said they had been inadvertently released as the result of a clerical error. The airport claimed the request should have been denied because the reports contained “security sensitive information.”
CBSLA is not revealing any of that information, nor how the people who breached security made it to the runways.
The reports have subject lines including “breach,” and “unauthorized person on the AOA (Air Operations Area).”
Most of the 126 breaches were passengers. In one case, a passenger got lost and accidentally walked out of the door leading to the airfield. In another, a passenger was looking to the exit to find the taxi cabs, took a wrong door, and somehow ended up in the airfield. Another man ran onto the airfield and was seen doing pushups on a runway. In yet another case, a lost family exited an elevator and found themselves on the airfield.
Meanwhile, in June, a driver led police on a chase on the runway at LAX after crashing through a gate.
“If the common man can get out on the ramp at LAX, a terrorist would have no problem at all,” aviation security expert Mike Boyd said.
The airport noted that all the passenger breaches were of people who had already made it through TSA security checkpoints. Most of the people who did breach security were not arrested after officers determined that it was just an innocent mistake. However, a police report was written for each incident.
“We’re being convinced that if we stop people from carrying four ounces of perfume instead of three, we’re safe,” Boyd said. “We’re not. The fact is, it’s not the screening checkpoints where the danger is, it’s that back door.”
The reports show the alarms were triggered when people went through security doors. None of the passengers caused any harm.
Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Cecil Rhambo Jr. maintains that with the tens of millions of passengers that have passed through the airport over the past six years, 126 breaches isn’t that alarming of a number.
“If they were terrorists, of course, bad things could happen,” Rhambo Jr. told Goldstein. “But I will tell you that the layers of security, and the number of people that are caught, given the millions over that six-year period. To me, it let’s me know that the system does work.”