Celebrities Using BWI Get Armed Police Escort

Policy not considered standard among airport security plans

Similarly, Maroon emphasized that Ripken has never demanded special treatment. In previous years, before McLhinney and Shea went to the police agency, Ripken would direct his escort requests to the airlines, Maroon said.

"This isn't something that Cal ever requested. It was something that was offered to him," Maroon said of Ripken, who writes a weekly freelance column for The Sun.

Shea said he "disagrees with that statement" but declined to elaborate.It was unclear how comprehensive a picture of the escorts the documents reveal. Some other celebrities that McLhinney said had received police escorts at BWI -- including Ray Lewis, John Travolta, Bruce Springsteen and Rosie O'Donnell -- were not mentioned in the logs.

McLhinney said his police don't necessarily fill out forms on everybody who is given an escort. He said celebrities can receive escorts from his officers regardless of whether there is an actual threat. "We don't base our escorts on threats. We base it on the individual," the chief said.

One reason many airports hesitate to provide escorts to sports and entertainment celebrities -- as opposed to government officials or foreign dignitaries -- is that it would put officials in the position of deciding who qualifies as important enough.

Nancy Castles, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles International Airport, said celebrities "receive no special services from airport police whatsoever."

David Marks, who has operated a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based celebrity protection business for 30 years, said police agencies have no business competing with private companies that offer such services. In particular, he said, they are not qualified to decide who is deserving.

"Who's to say who make up the A list?" he said. "Today they're on the A list. Tomorrow they're on the B list. What about three years from now?"

McLhinney said the decision whether to provide an escort is based on whether a particular celebrity was "high-profile." He said he leaves such decisions to the commander at the airport, who reports to Shea.

"We would do [former Ravens player] Deion Sanders all the time ... because Deion's high-profile," he said. "A non-high-profile person wouldn't call us."

McLhinney said he has known about Ripken's escorts and his employment of Shea and sees no conflict of interest.

"The fact that he works for Cal doesn't concern me because it's off-duty," the chief said. McLhinney said he, too, did some work for Ripken before taking his current job.

Maroon said any work Shea does for Ripken is covered under a confidentiality agreement and his compensation from his secondary employment with Ripken is "minuscule."

"You couldn't buy a car with it," he said.