We Need Aviation Police Reform, Too

2015125685ca1324953In light of recent events, where a United Airlines passenger was hauled off of a plane and suffered multiple injuries, we decided to focus to the reform of aviation police. The officers who assaulted passenger David Dao were not Chicago Police officers, they were instead airport security officers. In order to protect citizens and airline passengers more, airports nationwide should get rid of airport security officers and only employ trained police officers. Using the Chicago United Airlines case as an example, I will demonstrate the issues that exist in our current system.

The first problem with using airport security officers instead of police officers is that they are not required to have nearly as much training as police officers. For example, Chicago Police officers are required to spend six months in the police academy, compared to just four months of training for aviation police. It does not make sense that someone in a position of authority who is allowed to use force on citizens should not have to undergo extensive training. Those two extra months could’ve educated these officers on how to interact with nonviolent citizens.

If this situation were reversed and there was a violent and dangerous passenger, how would these officers have responded? There is no way of knowing if these under trained officers would have been prepared.

The second issue with the aviation police system is that there does not seem to be consistency in protocol. According to the head of security at the Chicago Department of Aviation, the officers were not supposed to respond to a call like this one. The official also did not know how the officers were instructed about the use of force.

This situation shows an inability on the part of the officers to follow protocol and disorganization within the Department of Aviation regarding when force is necessary. If the officers were explicitly told not to respond to a call like this, then why did they proceed to do so and injure a passenger? Also, if the agency official did not know how much force the officers were allowed to use, that shows an underlying issue with the agency as a whole. If there are not strict guidelines each officer has to abide by regarding force, then more situations like this are bound to happen without reform.

A change needs to happen in airports. Instead of hiring untrained and undisciplined aviation officers, only trained police officers should be hired. This will create more oversight from police departments to ensure that all protocol and department guidelines are being followed. Also, with the increased use of body cameras in police forces, police officers in airports will also be equipped with these devices, which could prevent passengers like David Dao from being assaulted.