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Head of L.A. World Airports police and security services announces his departure

September 8, 2009 | 10:35 pm

James T. Butts Jr., who headed police and security operations at Los Angeles World Airports for the last three years, announced Tuesday that he was stepping down at the end of the year, according to a memo obtained by The Times.

Butts is credited with improving training and discipline at the organization, which with more than 1,200 sworn and civilian personnel is the nation's largest airport law enforcement and security organization. He previously served 15 years as Santa Monica police chief.

"We have established ourselves as leaders in implementing technology and as a premier respected, trusted, professional law enforcement organization," Butts wrote in the announcement.

His tenure also marked better relationships with outside law enforcement agencies, most notably the Los Angeles Police Department, which under Chief William J. Bratton launched an unsuccessful bid to absorb the much smaller -- and at the time maligned -- department.

"He was a great partner," said LAPD Asst. Chief Earl Paysinger. "His departure will leave a void."

Butts, who could not be reached for comment tonight, did not give a reason for his departure. He said in the memo that his position would not be filled. Instead, his duties will be absorbed by George R. Centeno, LAWA's chief of police and other staff.

-- Andrew Blankstein