New LAX Port Director to Oversee Facial Recognition Program

By Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin
November 23, 2021 Updated: November 24, 2021

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appointed a new director on Nov. 22 to oversee its facial recognition program, international travel, and a new cargo X-ray system at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Director Cheryl Davies, formerly the assistant director of passenger operations, was sworn in during a Change of Command Ceremony at the Sgt. Paul Nakamura Army Reserve Center at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, California.

“Our mission is clear, our challenges are ever-evolving, but every challenge presents an opportunity to be nimble, to show that as a team we will rise to the occasion, and I know it will, because my team is the best of the best,” Davies told U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) senior leadership, employees, law enforcement partners, and stakeholders at the ceremony, according to the DHS.

LAX officials expect an increase of international travelers at the airport to reach 18,000 people per day, an increase from the 4,500 passengers per day during the summer of 2020.

Los Angeles World Airports, which includes LAX and Van Nuys airports, is now equipped with facial recognition technology and X-ray programs for air cargo shipments.

“Whether it’s the use of biometric identification or the fast and easy-to-use Mobile Passport app, passengers entering the country through LAX have many options to ensure a faster and smoother journey,” Justin Erbacci, CEO of the Los Angeles World Airports, said in a statement issued in June.

Epoch Times Photo
New Los Angeles International Airport Area Port Director Cheryl Davies addressed U.S. Customs and Border Protection senior leadership, employees, law enforcement partners, and stakeholders on Nov. 22, 2021. (Courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

As director, Davies will oversee a congressional mandate to install the biometrics program. The machines, using facial biometrics from the French company Idemia, were installed on automatic gates in September 2020. The technology records every passenger’s face as they travel through the gates.

The airport expects to install 128 gates at the airport and expand in the future, according to gate manufacturer Easier.

U.S. citizens who don’t want their photos captured can opt out of the program by requesting that airports manually review their passports and identification, according to the DHS.

Since the beginning of the CCP virus pandemic, e-commerce imports at the airport have grown more than 700 percent, the CBP reported.

In September, the airport unveiled a first-of-its-kind Air Centralized Examination Station that uses X-ray technology to scan air cargo. The system, installed in a new 40,000-square-foot facility, allows agents to scan packages without having to open them, according to the CBP.

“This consolidation will allow CBP officers to efficiently facilitate legitimate shipments while stopping and seizing illicit goods,” Davies said in a statement Sept. 16.

Davies will oversee LAX, Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Ontario, Palm Springs, San Bernardino, Victorville, and Van Nuys user fee and international cargo operations.