Members of the union that represents Los Angeles airport police called Monday for an independent investigation of the airport operator's deputy executive director of law enforcement and homeland security for allegedly taking discriminatory actions against employees.
Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers' Association representatives allege David Maggard has for years taken retaliatory actions against employees, such as demoting them for filing complaints, and officers have accused him in lawsuits of using racial epithets.
"The majority of our department are officers of color. We reflect and are part of the community we serve,'' said Marshall McClain, president and CEO of LAAPOA. "At a time when our society is reckoning with issues of equality and racial justice, it is shameful that this pattern of discrimination and disrespect is allowed to continue at our airports."
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Representatives of Los Angeles World Airports told City News Service they cannot comment on specifics of ongoing litigation, but issued a statement saying LAWA "squarely rejects any allegation" of Airport Police discriminating or retaliating against officers based on race, gender or other unlawful factors.
"Los Angeles World Airports has a long history of inclusion and is very proud of the diversity of both sworn and civilian personnel at every level of our organization," the statement reads. "LAWA executive management and the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners are deeply committed to a diverse, inclusive workplace within Airport Police."
Maggard became the chief of airport police in 2016. He was appointed to the deputy executive director position in August 2019. The role includes supervisory authority over 1,100 civilian and sworn personnel, including airport police.
"Our LAXPD officers, and more specifically our minority police officers, have endured five years of discrimination, retaliation and toxic leadership by Director Maggard," McClain alleged. "He has been the subject of nine individual lawsuits, more than any other leader in department history."
According to the lawsuits, airport police officers have filed a "multitude of complaints" for alleged wrongful termination and discrimination against Maggard, with no disciplinary action taken by the city or the Airport Commission.
The union itself has not filed a lawsuit against Maggard and none of the attorneys representing officers were hired by the LAAPOA, McClain said.
The union is asking for the city of Los Angeles to participate in the investigation, and McClain said he would like to see an inspector general installed at the airport police department or an oversight board like the Police Commission, which oversees the Los Angeles Police Department.
McClain said he has reached out to the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, who he said "has repeatedly spoken out against racism and bigotry, yet he remains silent on the issue of Director Maggard.''
"If nine lawsuits do not constitute a pattern, what does? It is long past time for someone in power to explain how Director Maggard continues to have the ability to abuse his position and foster a culture of intimidation and contempt,'' McClain said.
According to McClain, the Airport Commission reviewed the employment issues related to Maggard in closed session and decided there is "no confirmation of a pattern of practice of racial inequity discrimination or improper management.''
"If LAWA, the Board of Airport Commissioners and the mayor cannot be forthcoming about their reasons for ignoring this clear pattern of discrimination, then we need an independent, transparent investigation,'' he said. "Our officers, who work hard every day to keep our airports safe, deserve nothing less.''