Department of Transportation slaps LAX for financial irregularities; Read the audit

The key is policing

Is Los Angeles International Airport overpaying for police? File photo.

Los Angeles International Airport may be violating federal law by spending some of its revenues on costs not vital to airport operations, a federal agency charged in an audit released this week.

I’ve got a full story on the problems found in the audit on our main website. But it’s pretty much inside baseball stuff. If you follow airports closely, you know that the FAA bans airports from using their revenues to pay for any costs not entirely related to airport operations.The idea is to ensure that airports don’t accept FAA grants for things like new runways and then go ahead and use their revenues to fund city projects — stuff not connected to the airport.

LAX got in trouble in part because it was paying the LAPD for work that was not connected with the airport. For example, LAX was funding a piece of the LAPD’s “Police Forgery Unit.” But it wasn’t clear to auditors why this was the case.

“LAPD charged LAWA $968,74222 for services by its Forgery Unit,” the auditors wrote. “This amount represents 20 percent of the unit’s personnel salary. However, LAPD did not provide adequate documentation, such as accounting records or tracking of airport-related and non-airport related time, to show that this charge was actually expended for airport-related work.”

Another problem? LAX paid $216,162 to fund a Lieutenant in the LAPD’s Gang and Narcotics Division. But during the period the Lieutenant was being paid, it wasn’t clear how the work was tied to the airport.

“The lieutenant stated that he conducted both airport and non-airport work, and LAPD charged the airport one-third of the lieutenant’s salary to the airport,” the audit stated. “However, according to division representatives, the basis of this rate is unknown, and the time spent on airport-related work is not tracked. As a result, the documentation does not support that the lieutenant spent one-third of his time for the benefit of the airport.

Remember, Los Angeles World Airports has its own police force, separate from the LAPD. So LAX is not only supporting its own police, but also paying for LAPD help. Some of this help is needed — the airport police is relatively small — but it’s not clear how much. The DOT doesn’t want LAX paying for any police it doesn’t need.

Here’s the full audit. Please let me know in the comments section if you see anything that is particularly interesting?

Lax Audit

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You might want to program this LAX emergency number in your phone

Do you spend an unusual amount of time at Los Angeles International Airport? If so, you might consider programming the phone number for Los Angeles World Airports police into your cell phone.

LAX officials are trying to work on a fix for the problem, which became known after the Nov. 1 shooting in Terminal 3, but right now, whether you make a call from an airport landline or from a cell phone on airport property, you won’t be immediately transferred to airport police. Your call likely will go first to the LAPD or California Highway Patrol. They are both fine agencies, but they’re not the primary police force at LAX.

Calling this number will get you faster service in an emergency.

 

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Are LAX police cracking down on Lyft, Uber & Sidecar drivers? (again)

Is there a ride-sharing crackdown going on (again) at LAX? Photo credit: Associated Press.

Is there a ride-sharing crackdown going on (again) at LAX? Photo credit: Associated Press.

UPDATE: Sgt. Belinda Nettles of Los Angeles World Airports police says there is no crackdown, per se. Instead, she says any tickets given out today are part of regular enforcement from the airport police commercial enforcement unit. “We don’t have anything going on, according to what they are telling me,” she said “There is no special details. It is just regular enforcement.”

As for why airport police are citing drivers at all, Nettles referred to an earlier statement given to me by airport police: “Airport Police will continue to enforce laws, rules, and regulations regarding vehicular operation on LAWA property, such as the Los Angeles Municipal Code, the California Vehicle Code, and the Airport Rules and Regulations.”

ORIGINAL STORY: I’ve received a tip that Los Angeles International Airport police are engaging in at least a one-day crackdown today (March 24) against drivers for UberX, Uber, Sidecar, Lyft and other similar ride-sharing services.

This comes from one of my best sources on the matter, a driver for one of the services who says he was ticketed because the VIN number on his car did not match the VIN number on his insurance policy. He said there were three airport police officers giving tickets today, and he sent me a photo of his ticket.

I am trying to learn what is going on from airport police. It is possible, of course, that it could be less of a crackdown and more of a situation where my source was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But we know from previous stories that airport police have had an at times hostile relationship with ride-sharing drivers. Unlike elsewhere in Los Angeles, where the companies tend to operate freely, the airport has made it difficult for ride-sharing drivers. This is for a couple of reasons. For one, the airport can make its own rules. And second, the airport has its own police force, so there’s actually a mechanism for enforcement. (As a result of this enforcement, the most popular of the services, UberX, actually pulled out of LAX in January.)

In the past, airport police have only ticketed drivers making pick-ups at LAX. But this may be changing. I think drop-offs are also being affected. I will let you know as soon as I know more.

If you’re a passenger, the one thing to know is that you will not be in trouble and will not be cited. It might be uncomfortable if the driver gets pulled over — one women I spoke to was questioned by police — but you’ll be free to go soon enough.

If you know anything more about what is happening today, please contact me at brian.sumers@langnews.com .

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Read the LAX Shooting after action report

Dear Readers:

I’m currently on vacation. But Los Angeles International Airport today released its public after action report from the Nov. 1 shooting at Terminal 3. There will be plenty of media reports today detailing the findings, but I figured some of you might want to read the report itself. So it is here.

LAWA T3 After Action Report March 18 2014

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Another IED threat brings bomb squad to LAX

A woman at Los International Airport claimed to have a improvised explosive device in the parking garage adjacent to American Airlines’ Terminal 4 at about 1 a.m. this morning, a police source told me.

Police established a perimeter and the LAPD bomb squad was called in, Sgt. Belinda Nettles of Los Angeles World Airports police said. The bomb squad cleared the garage at about 1:45 a.m. Friday, Nettles said.

After the incident, the woman was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, Nettles said.

This was the second bomb scare within six hours at LAX. At around 6 p.m., the bomb squad was called out to investigate an unattended bag at Terminal 3. That item was also cleared. The L.A. Times has a short article about that scare.

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