Early History - 1946-1959: Los Angeles Airport Police traces its beginnings to 1946, when Los Angeles Airport was transferred from the U.S. War Department to the City of Los Angeles. (The airport was later known informally as “Los Angeles Jetport,” finally becoming “Los Angeles International Airport” with the three-letter IATA designator of “LAX.”) Six armed “Airport Guards” and one supervisor were hired to provide physical security over city-owned property.
The number expanded to nine in 1949, the same year the officers were re-classified as “Special Officers” of the City of Los Angeles. The Special Officers were armed and worked for the Operations Bureau under the direction of the on-duty superintendent of operations.
Airport Security Division - 1959-1973: In 1959, the number of Special Officers increased to 12, led by the first Chief of Security, George Dorian. The organization was known as the Security Division of the Operations Bureau. The organization was responsible for general physical security and for patrolling airport areas. In 1961, with the opening of the new “Jet Age” airport, a detachment of officers from the Los Angeles Police Department was permanently assigned to LAX, working closely with the airport's Special Officers.
In 1968, Special Officers of the Department of Airports were granted peace officer status by the California legislature. Slow growth occurred over the years, until 1973, when approximately 70 officers and sergeants were assigned. A single lieutenant position was added in the early 1970s.
Approximately 30 unarmed, non-sworn Security Officers were first employed in 1973, staffing airfield access control posts. They remain in service today, numbering approximately 400, with their own supervisory ranks to the second level. Their duties have been expanded to include traffic control and parking enforcement.
Boarding Services Bureau (Anti-Hijack Detail) - 1973-1981: In 1973, in response to world-wide aircraft hi-jacking concerns, a separate organization of peace officers was created, with responsibility to provide armed presence at passenger screening stations. This organization, known as the Boarding Services Bureau, had approximately 75 members, including one director, one lieutenant and five sergeants.
Airport Security Bureau - 1981-1984: In 1981, the Security Division and the Boarding Services Bureau were merged, becoming the Airport Security Bureau.
Los Angeles Airport Police - 1984-present: In 1984, the Airport Security Bureau was renamed Los Angeles Airport Police. At various times, it has organizationally been a bureau of LAWA or a division of LAWA, depending on LAWA organizational structures (bureau designation is no longer). Other names include LAX Police, LAWA Police, LAX PD, LAXPD, LAWA PD and LAWAPD, in addition to Los Angeles Airport Police. (Airport Police badges do not include the words "Los Angeles," other than in very small type on the city seal. It was felt that inclusion of the LAX Theme Building and air traffic control tower would be distinctive enough to identify which Airport Police was being represented by the badge). In 2004, the City of Los Angeles Personnel Department changed the job classification from "Special Officer" to "Airport Police Officer" (3225). Today, Los Angeles Airport Police employs over 1,100 law enforcement and civilian personnel.