Airports are among the most tightly policed and secure locations in the country. Not only do they serve as major targets for criminals and terrorists, but they also often serve as entry and egress points for those attempting to damage national security or escape prosecution. In order to better protect the country, airport police agencies have improved their law enforcement skills and expanded their responsibilities to include counter-terrorism.
Airports often contain a variety of organizations including airline companies, federal transportation and customs officials, and vendors. In addition to supporting the travel of thousands of passengers, airports are also major hubs for the traffic of goods. These many organizations provide numerous opportunities for illicit activity that airport police must monitor continuously. In order to perform these tasks, airport police departments use a variety of police units including:
- Canine narcotics/explosives detection
- Bike, motorcycle, and vehicle patrols
- Traffic enforcement
- Special operations
- Air traffic control security
Airport Police Job Description
Airport police jobs involve performing many services, including:
- Search for lost or missing persons
- Arrest and detention of individuals engaged in unlawful behavior
- Investigate crimes on or related to the airport
- Conduct patrols using canines to detect controlled substances, weapons or explosives
- Respond to emergencies including fires and health crises
- Monitor the activities of passengers and other visitors
- Prevent entry of unauthorized individuals into sensitive areas
- Direct traffic in and around airport
- Conduct counter-terrorism operations
- Provide testimony during legal proceedings
- Patrol grounds on Segways, bicycles, motorcycles or cars.
How to Become an Airport Police Officer
The requirements to serve in airport police organizations are very similar to those of other law enforcement agencies. The minimum qualifications usually include
- U.S. citizenship
- Valid driver’s license
- 18 years of age or older
- High school diploma
While some agencies may only require a high school education, the considerable diversity in responsibilities and metropolitan work environment has contributed to a higher number of airport police organizations requiring at least an associate’s degree or higher.
Like other police admissions processes, there are physical and academic tests. The physical test may include timed exercises like running, weight lifting or firing a weapon. The written test is a basic skills evaluation that assesses writing and math skills.
An intensive background investigation is conducted to determine if a candidate possesses a flawless criminal history, sound driving record, and upstanding moral character. A series of oral interviews and a polygraph examination may also be administered. Medical and psychological evaluations may also be conducted.
New recruits must complete a training program at the local police academy. There may be some additional training provided that pertains to national and international laws, national security issues, and crowd control. Once a recruit completes the probationary period and is assigned to a specialized unit, they may receive additional training related to unit functions.
Airport Police Salary
Airport police are among the most highly compensated law enforcement officials. The following are salaries available in major metropolitan airport police organizations.
- Los Angeles: $48,003-$62,305
- Washington DC: $50,155-$82,755
- New York/New Jersey: $32,361-$90,000