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LAPD accused of overbilling LAX for policing

December 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Did the Los Angeles Police Department overbill Los Angeles International Airport for millions of dollars in services? The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating that allegation.

There are two separate agencies policing LAX: the Los Angeles Airport Police and the LAPD. Taxes pay for the LAPD. Airport fees pay for the airport police, and reimburse the LAPD.

The president of the airport police union has sent a complaint to Congress and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alleging that LAX is paying exorbitant fees for the use of LAPD officers.

"We're confident that this audit will show that there are the same pattern and practices going on and using the airport like it's a credit card and taking money out of the airport to be spent elsewhere," said Marshall McClain, president, Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association.

LAPD has specialized units assigned to LAX. There seems to be some questions about payments.

A regular LAPD patrol officer averages about $80,000 per year. Yet the same LAPD officer is paid $196,000 at LAX. There are 20 such officers.

An LAPD sergeant earns about $102,000 per year. Yet it costs LAX $250,000 per year for the same LAPD sergeant.

"It is a lot of money. Police come with more than just the salary of the officers. When we send an officer on assignment, they come with a car, they come with administrative backup, they come with all the equipment and training that they use," said LAPD Commander Andrew Smith.

A blue-ribbon panel on airport security appointed by the mayor this year had some harsh words regarding the relationship between LAPD and the Los Angeles World Airport Police (LAWAPD).

"There are historical tensions between LAWAPD and LAPD, and the union's leadership has exacerbated those tensions, which is unnecessary, unprofessional and adversely impacts security efforts at LAX," the panel wrote in a statement.

The FAA is trying to determine if there's enough evidence to launch a full inquiry.

Meantime, Commander Smith says he welcomes a full audit.


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