Aviation security officers to lose ‘police’ label after passenger dragging incident

CHICAGO -- A new report is advising some major changes to Chicago's Aviation Security Division after officers dragged a bloodied passenger off a United flight in April.

According to the Chicago Department of Aviation review, Chicago police will now take the lead on all disturbance calls at airports.

"This rescinds the current directive guiding incident dispatch, and defines coordination on responses with the Chicago Police Department," the report said.

Additionally, the word "police" is being removed from all airport security uniforms and vehicles in an effort to "consistently reinforce and communicate the ASO role as security professionals distinct from Chicago Police."

Based on the mutually agreed upon contract and the municipal code, ASOs have never been authorized as special police, nor as police officers," the report said.

SEIU Local 73, the union representing the aviation police, released a statement saying:

SEIU Local 73 Aviation Police members are sworn officers that work every day to ensure the safety of the traveling public. The actions of Commissioner Evans have tarnished the long standing good reputation which the Aviation Police maintained with the traveling public. The members are currently taking a “Vote of No Confidence” in Commissioner Evans.

The Airport Police have been performing the job of a police officer for 30 years. They have been required to have all the training of police officers and their uniforms, badges and cars bore the name “police” for the entire time.  Commissioner Evans wants to scapegoat the Airport Police Officers rather than take a look at her own failed policies and mismanagement.

The Union proposed that the City of Chicago embrace the status of Aviation Officers as special police officers, as authorized under the Chicago Municipal Code. Ensuring that those entrusted with providing a law enforcement presence at Chicago’s airports are appropriately designated as law enforcement officers, and given the necessary training and certifications to perform their jobs adequately, is in the best interest of the officers, the City, and the traveling public.

To the extent that any changes are made to Aviation Officers’ duties or positions, the Union will pursue all remedies available to it to challenge such changes through the grievance machinery, at the labor board, and in court. In order to best serve the traveling public, we will ensure that the worth and dignity of SEIU Local 73 Aviation Officers is recognized,