Chicago Aviation Security to Remove ‘Police’ From Uniforms Following United Passenger-Dragging
As part of a series of directives to overhaul security at Chicago’s airports following the dragging and injuring of a passenger on a United Airlines flight at O’Hare International in April, officials have ordered the removal of the word “police” from the uniforms, badges and vehicles of aviation security officers.
Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans laid out the mandate in a report released Wednesday that also called for reducing officers’ responsibilities and restructuring of their training, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Going forward, the Chicago Police Department will be tasked with handling the majority of disturbances at O’Hare and the city’s other major airport, Midway International.
“They are not police. People who are not police can’t use the word police…That has caused longstanding confusion,” Evans said Wednesday in an interview, the Sun-Times reported.
“You have an armed law enforcement agency, in our case Chicago Police,” Evans added. “In combination with that, you have unarmed, non-sworn security personnel. That is the way it’s done in the U.S. That’s the way the Israelis do it.”
The review’s directives came as a result of three unarmed aviation officers boarding United Flight 3411 and forcefully dragging Dr. David Dao off the plane after he refused to give his seat to a crew member, bloodying Dao and leaving him with injuries his attorneys described as a broken nose, two chipped teeth and a sinus issue that required surgery.
Video footage of the April incident went viral and led to a worldwide discussion of how airlines treat their passengers. Dao settled with United for an undisclosed amount later that month, but questions over O’Hare’s security protocol remained.
United declined a request for comment from Fortune.
The City of Chicago employs 292 aviation security officers, represented by the Trustees of Service Employees International Union Local 73. The union not respond to a request for comment but filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the city, arguing that the name change, which was first suggested by Evans in January, endangers the traveling public, according to the Sun-Times.
But Evans dismissed those claims, saying the name change would have little impact on day-to-day airport security.
“They are securing guards,” Evans added. “They’re doing badge checks. They’re doing door checks. They’re trained to help with medical situations. That’s extremely valuable.”