Los Angeles airport chief says phone system fixed

Mar 1, 2014, 1:12 AM

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Los Angeles airport police chief said Friday that the facility’s communications system has been fixed after what he termed a glitch prevented a faster response to a gunman last fall.

Chief Patrick Gannon spoke after a state Assembly committee hearing to review the emergency response to the Nov. 1 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport.

Gannon said the system has been tested repeatedly since the shooting and is working properly.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that when the shooting started, a screening supervisor picked up an emergency phone but no location was automatically transmitted to a dispatcher. The supervisor fled without providing any information because the gunman was near.

It took 90 seconds before dispatchers knew where to send police.

Authorities say Paul Ciancia, 24, targeted Transportation Security Administration officers in his attack. One was killed, and two others and a passenger were injured.

The hearing Friday was the first public detailed description of the chaotic scene. A final report on the airport’s review of the shooting is expected in mid-March.

As travelers dove for cover, 911 calls from cellphones were routed to the California Highway Patrol and those from landlines went to the Los Angeles Police Department. An airline contractor called airport police dispatchers directly from his cellphone to provide them with the shooting location and details.

State Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, said in a statement Friday that he will reintroduce a bill that would require phone system upgrades to multiline telephone systems in large complexes so that 911 dispatchers can tell exactly where a call is coming from. The bill was held back because of cost concerns last year.

The AP also reported Thursday that airport officials found broken panic buttons during their review. Those devices are supposed to automatically call for help and activate a camera giving airport police a view of the area reporting trouble. Though TSA officers told airport officials that an officer had hit the panic button, there’s no record it happened.

Two of the dozen or so buttons in Terminal 3, where the shooting occurred, weren’t working and several others around the airport were defective. Later testing revealed that another terminal’s entire system of buttons was down, and airport police beefed up patrols until it was fixed.

Gannon said all the panic buttons are now working and are checked daily to ensure they’re functioning properly.

Meanwhile, Gannon said airport staff also worked to ensure that all airport employees have the airport police dispatch number in their cellphones.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Los Angeles airport chief says phone system fixed