LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck says he'd like to see better curbside camera surveillance, although based on the LAT post it's not clear how he believes that would enhance LAX's security systems. News reports, citing unnamed sources,have the alleged shooter, Paul Cianca, walking into Terminal 3 with a duffel bag and suitcase that held an AR-15 rifle used in the attack. More cameras might not have helped if the weapon was hidden from view. Still, the law enforcement postmortems are appropriate and might lead to improved responses and communication. The major criticism seems to center on the time it took police to reopen the airport roadways. Meanwhile, Rand Corp. security expert Brian Jenkins questions whether it would make much sense to arm TSA screeners, as some are suggesting. From his LAT oped:
Securing crowded public places is difficult, disruptive and costly. Securing an airport check-in area would require the creation of a physical security perimeter at the entrances to the terminals where passengers arriving with luggage would undergo preliminary screening. But shootings and bombings can also take place in the baggage pickup areas, so these also would have to be secured. Security measures at the entrances would create lines of people waiting to be screened who would be vulnerable to attack outside the terminal. A Rand Corp. study recommended mitigating the potential casualties that might be caused by a bomb by speeding up the check-in and security check procedures, thereby thinning the crowd. But this would not have significant effect in a shooting incident.
Would armed screeners be effective in responding to an armed assault? Shootouts in crowded areas are extremely dangerous. The risks of casualties resulting from friendly fire are high. Police at airports undergo specialized training to engage shooters. Officers at the airport, both from the airport police and the Los Angeles Police Department, are trained in "active shooter" response. Passengers wounded or killed by friendly fire would create a public relations catastrophe for the TSA. The public accepts that this may happen when police are obliged to use deadly force, but there is already a measure of public hostility toward the TSA. Perceptions matter.