CHICAGO (CBS) — Several Chicago aldermen have backed a measure to put a stop to Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans’ move to strip airport security officers of their powers and titles as police, after a passenger dragging scandal earlier this year.
After a team of airport security officers dragged Dr. David Dao down the aisle of a United Airlines flight in April – bloodying his nose and concussing him in the process – Evans accelerated previous efforts to force the city’s aviation security unit to remove the word “police” from their uniforms and vehicles, and strip them of their certification.
Aviation Security Officer Aurelius Cole said there are serious consequences if criminal activity occurs at the airport.
“As a security officer, from what we was told by Ginger Evans, we are to stand down, call CPD, and let them handle it,” he said.
Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), a former Chicago police sergeant, has introduced an ordinance to restore the officers’ police titles and powers, but he admitted he hasn’t counted how many other aldermen would support it.
“We’ve not lobbied to see how many votes we do and do not have. We’re just trying to bring attention, and restore security at our airports,”
He also doesn’t know if Mayor Rahm Emanuel will back the move.
“We hope that this does bring attention to our mayor, to not just see what this has done to the men and women in blue, but also what it’s doing to our city,” he said.
Taliaferro said, whether airport security officers were right or wrong in the way they dragged Dao off the plane, the Aviation Department should not have stripped all officers of their police powers and titles because of it.
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) joined Taliaferro in seeking to restore the security force’s police powers.
“The threats to our city and our communities are real, they are great, and the opportunities that present themselves at airports do exist, and the line must not be weakened. It must be strengthened,” he said.
Aviation officials have said the security unit was never meant to be the same as Chicago police, who also patrol the airports.
Two security officers were fired over the passenger dragging fiasco, and two others were suspended.