In the wake of last week's deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday there are things that can be done to increase security at the airport while avoiding flooding the busy area with additional armed officers.
Beck noted a lack of sufficient closed-circuit television cameras delayed the investigation into how alleged gunman Paul Ciancia arrived at the airport. Extra cameras, he said, could boost observation in the terminals and on airport grounds, while bullet-resistant glass and other physical changes could make the busy area safer.
"You can use a force multiplier through technology," Beck said, adding that the additional surveillance throughout the property could be deployed in lieu of additional armed officers.
"I don't think a picket line of armed security is the answer."
He emphasized, however, that it is impossible to make the airport -- or any large, high-traffic, public place -- completely safe.
"An individual who is suicidal and well armed is all but impossible to stop initially," Beck said. "You can never get 100 percent safety."
He said law enforcement at the airport walks a fine line between security and restricting commerce by adding time to travelers' already lengthy process to board a flight, and that he didn't think the public wanted a high level of police saturation, which would further restrict access to the world's sixth busiest airport.
Ciancia, an unemployed mechanic originally from New Jersey, was dropped off by a roommate at Terminal 3 of the airport. He entered downstairs through the baggage claim area, where he allegedly pulled a .223-caliber assault rifle from his bag and began shooting. He forced his way through the security checkpoint on the upper floor, killing Transportation Security Administration Officer Gerardo Hernandez and injuring at least five others. He was shot several times by responding officers in the head and neck, and remains heavily sedated and under guard at Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center.
Beck praised the response of officers who eventually stopped Ciancia, and said the Los Angeles World Airport Police Division and LAPD worked well together in the aftermath of the shooting.
While he referred questions about details of the investigation to the FBI, which is leading the probe, Beck did say officers visited Ciancia's Sun Valley apartment the morning of the incident, but received the call from Ciancia's family that he was possibly contemplating suicide about a half-hour after the shooting occurred, and before he was identified. ___