December 7, 2007

Mayor Villaraigosa to Swear-In Los Angeles World Airports Police Chief, Four Assistant Chiefs

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa will swear-in today George R. Centeno as chief of police of the Airport Police Division of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA). Four members of the division's executive command staff also will be sworn in. The new appointees will be responsible for law enforcement and security at LAWA's four airports: Los Angeles International (LAX), LA/Ontario International (ONT), LA/Palmdale Regional (PMD) and Van Nuys (VNY) general aviation.

In a special ceremony starting at 9 a.m. at the Flight Path Learning Center & Museum/LAX Imperial Terminal, the mayor will swear-in Centeno as the sixth chief of Airport Police since the force was established in 1946. Centeno joined the Airport Police Division as an assistant chief of police in February 2007. He is a retired lieutenant with 28 years of service with the Santa Monica Police Department, where he commanded a number of divisions including Special Enforcement, Traffic Enforcement, Internal Affairs, Office of Operations, and the Special Policing District. He is a decorated police officer having received the department's Medal of Courage and Life-Saving Medal. Chief Centeno received his Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Northridge, and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

Mayor Villaraigosa said, "The appointment of Chief George Centeno and the new executive command team exemplifies our commitment to build a world-class airport police organization for the protection of our 68 million passengers who fly annually through the airports owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles."

LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey said, "Our core business is to run our four airports safely and efficiently. Public safety is our number one priority and the appointments of Chief Centeno and the executive command staff will help us continue to meet that goal."

The Airport Police Division's executive command staff reports to James T. Butts, Jr., LAWA's deputy executive director of Law Enforcement and Protection Services. Butts said, "Chief Centeno is a proven law enforcement professional and valuable addition to our police executive team at LAWA. His training and experience in the area of incident management and operations has already improved the response and recovery protocols used in airport emergencies at our four airports."

Mayor Villaraigosa also swore-in four other Airport Police executive command staff members:

 --  Frank Fabrega, as assistant chief for Traffic and Security Operations.     Fabrega joined LAWA's Airport Police Division last February after 32 years     with the Santa Monica Police Department in assignments which included SWAT     team leader, and supervisor of K-9 officers, Office of Investigations,     Recruitment and Training, community relations and media relations.  He     holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California     State University, Los Angeles, and a Juris Doctorate from Ventura College     of Law.  He is a graduate of the Command College for Executive Leadership     and the FBI National Academy.      --  Erroll G. Southers, as assistant chief for Intelligence and Emergency     Operations, commanding the Homeland Security, Emergency Preparedness and     Security Credentials Sections of LAWA's Airport Police Division.  Southers     joined Airport Police this year and is former deputy director of the     California Office of Homeland Security, responsible for critical     infrastructure, counterterrorism policy and national pilot programs.  He is     a former Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent assigned to     counterterrorism foreign counter-intelligence and SWAT.  He is an adjunct     professor of Terrorism and Public Policy and an associate director of the     National Homeland Security Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of     Terrorism Events (CREATE) at the University of Southern California (USC).     Southers is a former Santa Monica police officer, a court-qualified gang     expert, and a member of the Rio Hondo Police Academy faculty.  He is     currently a senior fellow of the University of California, Los Angeles     (UCLA) School of Public Affairs and a Next Generation Fellow of the     American Assembly at Columbia University.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts     degree from Brown University and a Master of Public Administration degree     from USC, where he is a doctoral candidate.      --  William Thompson, as executive assistant chief of Administrative     Services.  Thompson served 34 years with the Inglewood Police Department in     assignments ranging from patrol, K-9, motor, SWAT, internal affairs and     robbery-homicide, and last commanded the Traffic Division.  Along with his     police duties, Thompson also served as the City of Inglewood's Emergency     Preparedness Coordinator during the past 10 years.  Thompson is a recipient     of Inglewood Police's Medal of Valor.  Chief Thompson earned a Bachelor of     Arts degree from Loyola Marymount University.      --  Brian A. Walker, a 16-year veteran with Airport Police Division, as     deputy chief of the Office of Operations, overseeing police operations at     all four LAWA airports.  Before this appointment, he was acting chief of     police for two years after commanding the Patrol Services Section, which is     responsible for 24-hour police and emergency operations at LAX.  He served     in increasingly responsible assignments in bike detail, patrol, crime     suppression, internal affairs, background investigations, and planning and     development.  He graduated from the Rio Hondo Police Academy and has     completed Police Officers Standards & Training (POST) management and     leadership courses.  Walker has received numerous departmental awards and     commendations for incident command and leadership response during several     high-profile events at LAX.      

The Airport Police Division is the fourth largest law enforcement agency in Los Angeles County, with more than 1,200 law enforcement, security and staff personnel. It is considered a leader among U.S. airports for implementation of new technology-derived security measures that include the use of artificial intelligence software to randomize vehicle checkpoint deployments. LAWA's Airport Police officers serve as instructors for law enforcement personnel from other California airports in POST-certified (Police Officers Standards & Training) aviation peace officers training course. The Airport Police Division, in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department, also has the largest number of bomb-detection canines among U.S. airports. Airport Police officers undergo training at the Los Angeles Police Academy and receive additional training specific to aviation-related law enforcement.

(NOTE TO EDITORS: High-resolution, color digital portrait photos of Police Chief George Centeno; Assistant Chiefs Frank Fabrega, Erroll Southers and William Thompson; and Deputy Chief Brian Walker are available at the LAWA Electronic Newsroom for Media at Images from the swearing-in ceremony also are available at this Internet website.)

 CONTACTS: Sgt. James Holcomb (310) 337-5006  Mayor's Office Darryl Ryan (213) 978-0741  

SOURCE: Los Angeles World Airports