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LAX Security Status Is Downgraded

March 31, 2004|Jennifer Oldham | Times Staff Writer

After spending more than three months on a heightened security alert, the city's airport department received word from federal officials on Wednesday that it could scale back police overtime at Los Angeles International Airport.

The city has spent about $10.5 million since Dec. 21 to tighten security at LAX to its highest level since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The money paid for overtime work for scores of police officers to staff vehicle checkpoints and patrol the facility.

Officials will dismantle these checkpoints, which are on major arteries leading into LAX, over the next few days. They will also scale back deployment of police officers on overtime throughout the facility, said Nancy Castles, an airport department spokeswoman.

LAX was one of a handful of airports ordered to keep additional security measures in place after Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge allowed the rest of the nation to step back to a yellow alert on Jan. 9. Yellow is the third level on the federal government's five-level scale and indicates an elevated, rather than high, prospect of terrorist attack.

Ridge placed the nation on an orange alert on Dec. 21 out of concern that terrorists were planning to attack commercial airliners or large public gatherings over the holidays, including Los Angeles-bound flights from Paris and Mexico City.

LAX is considered California's No. 1 terrorist target.

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