Traffic stop: What happens when airport police pulls over an UberX driver

This is from my story in Saturday’s newspaper …

Jessica Harris, 25, of Los Angeles said she was not aware there might be a problem when she ordered a Honda Accord recently through UberX.

“Literally, five minutes after we leave the airport we get pulled over by a police officer,” Harris said. “I was a little confused and a little nervous. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, did I do something wrong?’ He pulled me out of the car and he explained to me the problem. He said, ‘Don’t worry you’re not in trouble.’ He said, ‘You can call another car or I can call a cab for you.’ ”

She said her driver did not want to admit he was dispatched by UberX, but she felt she had no choice but to tell the truth to the officer. “He was like, ‘What service did you order this car from?’ ” she said. “I felt horrible. I felt so bad.”

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Why can’t UberX, Lyft and Sidecar make LAX pickups?

Lyft is banned from picking up passengers at LAX. Photo credit: Associated Press.

Lyft is banned from picking up passengers at LAX. Photo credit: Associated Press.

A blog is a great place for short bursts of information. But sometimes, we still need the newspaper.

In Saturday’s newspaper, I explain the entire saga of why Lyft, Sidecar and UberX are banned from picking up passengers at LAX.  Below is the gist, but click on the link for the full story, including an account from a passenger who was in the car when her driver was pulled over.

“Amid a police crackdown on casual drivers illegally soliciting fares at Los Angeles International Airport, popular ride-sharing brand UberX moved Friday to halt pickups in the Central Terminal Area, though it will continue facilitating rides to the airport.

Since December, police have stepped up their enforcement of little-known regulations designed to protect livery and taxi drivers, frustrating ride-sharing drivers and leaving their customers bewildered. In the past two months, a law enforcement source said, Los Angeles World Airports police have cited about 200 drivers and made two arrests for illegal pickups on the upper and lower roadways.

The vast majority of Los Angeles Municipal Code citations, the source said, went to drivers for UberX, perhaps the most recognizable brand in an industry that includes competitors Lyft and Sidecar. Last week, Sidecar also told its drivers they might want to avoid LAX pickups, though its mobile phone application still allows them.

While the California Public Utilities Commission last year endorsed the right of the three firms and others like them to operate statewide, its decision left intact special arrangements at airports, which have the right to decide what cars may use them. Los Angeles International allows only properly licensed livery and taxi drivers to pick up passengers, and most drivers at the three major ride-sharing companies lack the proper credentials. Usually, drivers for UberX, Lyft and Sidecar are driving their own cars and are dispatched to fares by a mobile phone application.”

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LAX cracks down on UberX, Lyft and Sidecar; Source says there have been 200 citations since December

UberX

UPDATE: See my new post: UberX halts all LAX pickups amid increased police vigilance

Watch out, ride-sharing aficionados.

Los Angeles International Airport is cracking down on UberX, Lyft and Sidecar drivers making pickups in the Central Terminal Area. A law enforcement source told me that Los Angeles World Airports police have issued 200 citations and made two arrests of ride-sharing drivers since December. The majority of those citations, the source said, have been to UberX drivers.

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Question of the day: Should armed officers return to LAX security checkpoints?

Not long before the Nov. 1 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, officials removed the armed Los Angeles World Airports police officer at every security checkpoint.

Patrick Gannon, the police chief, said this was not a budget decision but was instead a decision about how best to allocate resources. He said, as a police matter, it makes little sense to have officers seated all day at a fixed post. He said makes more sense for them to roam terminals so they can respond to an incident anywhere, like the ticketing lobby, where the last major LAX shooting occurred. 

But many folks I have spoken with, including TSA agents, want the officers to return.

What do you think? Should officers be stationed at every security checkpoint?

Please leave your views in the comments section.

 

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LAX police chief says officers were not out of position on Nov. 1

Police stand outside Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013.  (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Police stand outside Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

The Nov. 1 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport is back in the news, as the Associated Press reported that two officers assigned to Terminal 3 were either on break or about go on break, but had not told dispatchers of their intentions.

One officer was likely in the bathroom while the other was on the ramp preparing to take a meal break, according to AP. The story seems to suggest — though it does not outright say — that police response was screwed up because of the discrepancy.

I spoke Wednesday with airport police Patrick Gannon, who pushed back against the story, saying both officers responded almost immediately to reports of gunfire. He stressed that officers have no fixed positions — only assigned terminals — so it’s a little hard to say officers were in the wrong place when they were both still around Terminal 3. He said they were on duty and responded appropriately. (The police union president told me that both of the officers implicated by the story arrived at the scene within about 90 seconds after getting the call.)

“The reason that this shooting occurred was because Paul Ciancia decided to come intoCHIEF GANNON our airport and to take out his anger and wrath on the TSA,” Gannon told me. “The officers that were working that particular day were doing what I wanted them to do and were working in a manner with which I am comfortable.  Do I wish that someone had seen him and figured out what he was trying to do before he actually commited murder? Yes. But he didn’t present himself in that way. I don’t know a way I could have prevented this murder.”

Gannon has been criticized for removing armed airport police officers from every security checkpoint. But he continues to call that a poor use of resources. He said it makes more sense to have officers roam the terminals.

Of course, if they’re roaming, they might be in the wrong place when disaster strikes. Maybe they’ll be in the ticket counter when something happens at baggage claim. Or maybe they’ll be at the gates when something happens in the lobby.

But Gannon, who had a long career with the LAPD, says good policing requires the force to change up its security profile. Having an officer seated behind a desk all day makes little sense to him, he has said.

“We are trying reach day to raise our profile throughout the airport,” Gannon said. “But I can’t guarantee, nor can anyone be under the illusion, that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, i’ll have an officer everywhere in the airport that I have people. That’s not reasonable. It isn’t a matter of manpower. It’s a question of using resources.”
Want to read more of Gannon’s comments? Read my story in Thursday’s newspaper.
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