Tags: Proposal | Would | Allow | Armed | Cops | Planes

Proposal Would Allow Armed Cops on Planes

Friday, 28 September 2001 12:00 AM

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents some 8,000 LAPD officers, requested that the ban on allowing law enforcement officers to carry their concealed weapons be lifted so that they may function as unofficial sky marshals.

"If the public knows that additional protection is available to them through trained and credentialed officers, they will feel much safer traveling via airplane," Mitzi Grasso, president of the LAPPL, said in the organization's letter to Ashcroft.

The ideas of arming pilots and placing sky marshals aboard airliners were brought up shortly after the Sept. 11 hijackings of four airliners used in kamikaze attacks on Washington and New York. Many pilots, however, have been reluctant to take up arms, and there will not be enough sky marshals to protect every U.S. commercial flight.

The potential value of resisting the hijackers was illustrated when one of the planes crashed in a Pennsylvania field after a group of unarmed passengers apparently revolted and attacked the lightly armed terrorist team. It was thought that the jet was heading toward Washington to hit the White House or the Capitol Building.

There was no immediate comment on the proposal from the Justice Department, however the Los Angeles Times said Friday that some federal officials were concerned that a hijacker impersonating an officer would be able to bring a gun aboard a flight.

Nevertheless, law enforcement officials see the idea as sensible since off-duty officers routinely carry pistols, and Grasso said many California peace officers have already attended a state-sponsored course on the use of firearms aboard an airliner.

While having an armed police officer, or even officers, aboard a flight would likely be a major factor in foiling a hijacking attempt, the deterrence factor was equally valuable, according to the head of the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Association.

"Law enforcement is partly based on the concept of randomness," said Bernard K. Melekian, the president of the association and chief of the Pasadena Police Dept.

"You don't put a police officer on every street corner, but the crooks know there is a chance that a police officer could come around that corner at any moment," Melekian told the Times. "It needs to be the same way on airlines. Terrorist wouldn't be able to predict whether officers were on aircraft."

The chiefs' association offered a proposal similar to the union's last week in the form of a letter to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., which was forwarded to Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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The Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents some 8,000 LAPD officers, requested that the ban on allowing law enforcement officers to carry their concealed weapons be lifted so that they may function as unofficial sky marshals. If the public knows that...
Proposal,Would,Allow,Armed,Cops,Planes
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2001-00-28
Friday, 28 September 2001 12:00 AM
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