Chicago IL Dec 14 2017 Chicago aldermen are again fighting city Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans’ decision to remove the word “police” from airport security officers’ titles after an infamous dragging incident on a United Airlines flight at O’Hare airport.
An ordinance introduced Wednesday would take away Evans’ power to make the change and once again designate roughly 290 airport officers as police on their uniforms. It faces an uphill battle though. The proposal’s sponsors said Wednesday they haven’t spoken to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration about the idea, nor have they taken a head count in the City Council to see if they have enough support to push it forward.
“We have not lobbied to see how many votes we do or do not have,” said West Side Ald. Chris Taliaferro, 29th. “We’re just trying to bring attention and restore security at our airport by restoring police powers to these men and women.”
Taliaferro said that with heightened concern about terrorist incidents at American airports, it makes sense to give the officers the clear authority to deal with situations that arise rather than placing them in the diminished role of security guards. Under the ordinance, only the City Council would have the authority to change the airport officers’ designations.
Chicago’s airport police got international scrutiny after an April incident in which officers dragged passenger Dr. David Dao off an overbooked flight. Video of the incident was shared on social media, resulting in an apology from United's CEO and changes to company procedures.
Evans subsequently issued an order changing the rules for the force, removing the word "police" from the officers' uniforms and removing them as the lead responders on disturbance calls at the airports and on planes.
The airport officers are represented by the powerful Service Employees International Union, which many aldermen turn to for campaign funds and support.