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In Case of Emergency, Aviation Police Trained to “Run and Hide”

A CNN exposé reveals that hundreds of sworn police officers at two of the busiest airports in the U.S. are unarmed and instructed to run away in the event of a serious incident.

Major commercial airports are undoubtedly among the most secure public spaces in the U.S., but in the event that the unthinkable happens, some travelers may be surprised by the initial police response to a violent or dangerous situation. Much of the police presence at O’ Hare International Airport (ORD) and Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) is not only unarmed but also operates under standing instructions to find shelter rather than respond to active security threats.

An investigative report by CNN’s Drew Griffin reveals that nearly half of the sworn police officers assigned to Chicago’s two biggest airports are unarmed and trained to avoid dangerous situations such as an active shooter or terrorist attack. Instead, the aviation police officers who work in conjunction with armed Chicago police officers are expected to follow Homeland Security guidelines for unarmed security personnel.

Internal documents obtained by CNN outline some unexpected instructions for on-duty police. “If evacuation is not possible: hide,” Aviation Department training materials advise. “We must also ensure that unarmed security personnel do not attempt to become part of the response, but could be invaluable to the evacuation efforts.” The CNN report notes that the training document offers tips for officers in hiding including locking doors, turning off lights and remaining calm and quiet.

The number of armed Chicago police officers assigned to ORD and MDW is in-line with many similar-sized airports in the U.S. and officials argue that the unarmed officers provide a helpful “force multiplier” to support the armed police presence at the two airports. However, some of the unarmed officers themselves worry that the idea of uniformed sworn police officers trained to run and hide in the event of a potential emergency would send the wrong message in a crisis.

“We’re nothing but casualties if you tell us to run and hide and how can the public look at us if they see police officers running and hiding?” one aviation police officer who spoke anonymously to CNN said. “That goes against the very oath we were sworn to that we took.”

[Photo: Getty]

Comments are Closed.
jonsg January 5, 2016

Seems to me that the advice is absolutely spot-on. Unarmed officers getting directly involved in an active-shooter incident are only likely to add (personally) to the death toll. After the incident is over, the airport's going to need people in uniform to organise emergency crews, help with crowd control and generally reapply order to a very chaotic situation, and the officers are going to find that tough if they're dead. Leave the heroics to the Hollywood fantasies, and the gun battles to the armed and trained.

Grog January 4, 2016

Exposé ? Hogwash! This "exposé" is simply inflammatory and misleading rubbish boulevard "journalism" -- just one more attempt to put more weapons into the hands of more people. Police officers, armed or unarmed, have a vital role in identifying potential/actual crimes and in mitigating the effects thereof. And, OF COURSE, an unarmed individual should to be trained to avoid dangerous situations such as active shooter or terrorist events. It's not "Running and hiding", it's called "taking cover" and taking on the role of providing vital information to a specialized response team.