CHICAGO - The other shoe has dropped on Chicago's beleaguered Department of Aviation police force.
As the I-Team first reported in April, city officials were rebranding the airport police as "security."
Now state regulators have "deactivated" the nearly 300-officer aviation department police force.
Long considered the law enforcement step children at O'Hare and Midway airports, a June 29 letter from the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board obtained by the I-Team notifies city officials that airport officers are "not law enforcement officers" anymore at all.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, city aviation department officials made it clear a retooled "security division" would still exist at Chicago's airports but in a newfangled format with far less authority and prominence.
Airport officers, who are separate from Chicago police assigned to O'Hare and Midway, have never been able to carry guns-a decades-old point of contention for them, their union and some members of the city council. Going forward they will also not be able to carry the name "police" on their sleeves or be primary respondents to security calls.
On April 9 the role of the aviation dept. police came under intense review when three officers were seen on video dragging a United Airlines passenger off a flight for refusing to give up his seat to a United crew member. The images of Dr. David Dao, bloody and thrashing while in the grips of several aviation officers.
Wednesday the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) issued a 12-page review of the role of airport security.
According to CDA Commissioner Ginger S. Evans: "We are confident that these actions are necessary to guide our department forward, while improving clarity for the aviation security officers who play an integral role in maintaining safe and secure conditions for the traveling public at both of Chicago's airports."
Evans says CDA "will introduce a new directive designating Chicago Police Officers as the lead on all disturbance calls at the airports, in addition to those on aircraft. This rescinds the current directive guiding incident dispatch, and defines coordination on responses with the Chicago Police Department."
As the I-Team first reported in April, Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union challenged the downgrade from police to security in an unfair labor practices complaint.