Last updated: 07:49 PM ET, Sun January 03 2016

Report: Chicago Airport Police Advised to Run and Hide in Active Shooter Situation

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | January 03, 2016

Report: Chicago Airport Police Advised to Run and Hide in Active Shooter Situation

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It’s a set of instructions that has some officers up in arms. CNN has uncovered training advice for unarmed Chicago airport police — if confronted with an active shooter, run.

Stated in internal aviation department documents “obtained through department sources,” as CNN put it, "If evacuation is not possible: hide." Further, the documents urge officers to lock doors, turn off lights, and remain quiet and calm.

"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 documents said, per CNN.

A training video shown to officers says the same thing, according to CNN: "If evacuation is not possible, you should find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Block entry to your hiding place and lock the door."

While the near-300 “aviation police officers,” (aka “aviation security officers”) at O’Hare and Midway are certified police officers in the state of Illinois, they are not authorized to carry firearms at the airports, CNN pointed out. Only Chicago Police Department Officers —the primary law enforcement agency at the two airports — can be armed.

This situation is unique among the nation’s major airports, CNN said.

Speaking anonymously to CNN, two aviation police officers voiced strong objections to this procedure.

"We're not trying to replace the Chicago police officers; we just want to have the tools to do the job like every other law enforcement agency in the country," said one officer, adding, "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? That goes against the very oath we were sworn to that we took."

Matt Brandon, secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union Local 73, which represents the aviation police officers, has issues with both the “run-and-hide” policy as well as the fact that these officers are unarmed. He commented to CNN, “these men and women are sent to the Chicago police academy, and trained as police officers, and being a former police officer, I know your first instinct is to go to the problem — not run away from the problem."

Brandon said the union has been unsuccessful in changing the aviation department’s mind about the no-gun policy, which, according to CNN, has been in place since the early 1990s.

"They are the last resort to the airfield in many cases, and to have them unarmed is just, I think, it's ludicrous," he said to CNN.

Chief Richard Edgeworth, overseer of Chicago’s aviation police officers, had no comment for CNN, but Owen Kilmer, deputy communications director of the Chicago Aviation Department stated, "We think the strategy in place is working."

Kilmer wrote in his statement to CNN, “(with) the current security structure in place, violent crime incidents at O'Hare and Midway airports are extremely low — ensuring that the millions of passengers who fly through Chicago each year feel secure at the airports.

Kilmer said there are a variety of “different security structures” being used in airports across the U.S. “and there's no one-size-fits-all approach."

He would not comment on the controversial active shooter policy due to “safety concerns,” CNN said.


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