SOURCE: Los Angeles World Airports

December 07, 2007 08:00 ET

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

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - December 7, 2007) - 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.)

Contact Information

    Sgt. James Holcomb
    (310) 337-5006

    Mayor's Office
    Darryl Ryan
    (213) 978-0741