Chicago Alderman: Airport Security Officers Need To Go

(CBS) – At least one Chicago alderman wants to eliminate the city’s airport security force after members dragged an airplane passenger from a full Louisville-bound flight at O’Hare last weekend.

CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley has more.

“This was a failure on multiple levels, on multiple fronts,” says 15th Ward Ald. Ray Lopez, a member of the City Council’s Aviation Committee.

The panel held a hearing earlier this week about the highly publicized incident in which Louisville physician David Dao was forcibly thrown off a United flight because airline employees needed seats.

O’Hare security officers who responded and removed Dao have been placed on leave, pending an investigation.

Lopez says he would prefer Chicago police officers handle tasks currently assigned to the security officers.

“I think the in the long run, whatever the cost is, it would be well worth it so we’re not in a situation where we’re trying to figure out who has the legal authority to act as police officers in an airport in Chicago,” he says.

Members of the current airport security force do not carry guns. They can detain but not arrest people.

Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans says the officers even defied her order not to call themselves police.

“We ordered them to not use the word police, to use the word security,” she said.

Meantime, United’s employee unions ganged up on the airport security force.

United pilots blamed “the grossly inappropriate response by the Chicago Department of Aviation.” Flight attendants said overbooking should never result “in a passenger being physically injured by airport security.”

Ald. Lopez says Dao must share the blame. The physician refused to de-board the plane when he was randomly selected to get bumped.

“The world has changed since 9/11, and when you are in an airport, when you are in an airplane, when you are asked to do something you cannot choose to say, ‘You know what, I don’t want to listen. I want to do my own thing,’” Lopez says.

United announced Friday that employees who need to get on flights must be booked at least 60 minutes in advance.

Meantime, Delta Airlines is breaking the bank to make certain it does not make the United mistake.

It’s authorized offering nearly $10,000 for passengers to give up their seats on overbooked flights.

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