Keeping Our Airports Safe
MSP Airport’s Department of Public Safety is responsible helping ensure safety and security at our airports, overseeing law enforcement with the Airport Police Department, fire and rescue operations with the Airport Fire Department, and emergency planning and preparedness with the Emergency Management Department. As part of its important role in coordinating safety and security at MSP, it also oversees the Emergency Communications Center.
MSP Airport Police
With 21,000 employees working at MSP Airport and thousands of passengers passing through its terminals each day, the Airport Police Department (APD) has a lot in common with other police departments. Its 130 sworn officers patrol our terminals – including some on bikes – and respond to all types of emergency calls.
But the department also works closely with many federal agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Customs and Border Patrol, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to help ensure safety and security at our airports. Its K-9 unit has a cadre of explosive-detection and narcotic-sniffing dogs that assist with its many investigations.
In addition, the department also has agreements with local, county and state police department to help when needed.
Within the APD, the Emergency Management division is responsible for coordinating all aspects of the MAC’s emergency management programs including emergency response, recovery and continuity of operations plans, and the MAC’s response to, and recovery from, the COVID-19 pandemic. This division also oversees the required triennial airport exercise to ensure FAA Part 139 standards are met as they pertain to the Airport Emergency Plan and directs the Airport Community Emergency Response Team and the Airport Assist Team.
The APD's current chief, Matt Christenson, began work 30 years ago as an entry-level community service officer directing traffic at MSP before moving up the ranks. So, too, did his predecessor – a testament to the department’s penchant for promoting from within.
MSP Airport Fire
The MSP Airport Fire Department (AFD) team has several types of special aircraft firefighting tools at its disposal, including ARFF (aircraft rescue and firefighting) “crash” trucks equipped with fuselage-piercing “snozzles” atop their turrets to inject water in the event of an airplane crash.
Included in this collection of specialized equipment is an airboat capable of navigating over water or ice on the nearby Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. The department also devotes a lot of time to fire prevention. It maintains one of the largest fire alarm system networks in Minnesota – more than 30,000 devices.
The department also conducts regular training throughout the MAC’s airports, which is one reason the survival rate for people who suffer cardiac arrest at MSP is significantly higher than the national average.
Like the Airport Police Department, the AFD has agreements with several nearby fire departments to help when needed. The department is led by Fire Chief Robert Koenig, who was also once chief of the Minnesota Air National Guard fire department and has been deployed throughout the world including to Iraq and to the U.S. Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.
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