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      Should security at Hancock Airport be privatized to save money?

      Syracuse Regional Airport Authority

      The Syracuse Regional Airport Authority on Friday voted to privatize security at Hancock International Airport.

      The Authority decided it's too expensive to have Syracuse police officers on overtime patrol the airport. The Authority's board of directors decided to contract with a private company, FS4 Secure Solutions of Florida, to take over.

      "The Syracuse Police Department has done a wonderful job here and the only issue is the economics of what it costs," says William Fisher, chairman of the Authority.

      The Airport Authority contract with the private security company will not exceed $2.5 million a year. That's nearly $2 million less than what the airport was planning to pay Syracuse police. Though there are several city cops who are assigned to the airport, the vast majority work here on an overtime basis. Some of them earn as much as $60/hour including benefits. Police Benevolent Association President Jeff Piedmonte blames city hall for the high overtime costs.

      "This city could have eliminated it a long time ago simply by assigning full time officers out here," Piedmonte said.

      Piedmonte says the union may file an unfair labor practices charge over privatizing airport security.

      "We were hoping to work out something with the Authority top, come in at a figure similar to what the security company was willing to pay but that was never an option for us," Piedmonte said. "They made it clear from the beginning that a security company would take over."

      T he private security agency would still have to hire police officers in addition to their own staff , b ut they can hire from police agencies outside the city of Syracuse at a much lower rate. By privatizing security, the newly formed Regional Airport Authority has taken its first major step toward reducing costs and making Hancock more attractive to airlines which could eventually lower fares.

      T he TSA and the Syracuse Common Council must now approve the contract for a private security company at Hancock International Airport.

      EARLIER VERSION:

      T he recently formed Syracuse Regional Airport Authority will met Friday to consider whether to privatize security at Hancock Airport over the objections of the Syracuse Police Department.

      The Authority board members unanimously approved a plan to hire G4S Secure Solutions to take over security at a cost of $2.5 million. Such a contract is expected to save about $1.5 million over the cost of having Syracuse Police officers handle security. Authority Board Chairman William Fisher told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "The Syracuse Police Department has done a wonderful job here and the only issue is the economics of what it costs."

      The Syracuse Police Benevolent Association may file an unfair labor practices complaint with the Public Employees Relations Board to block the contract. PBA President Jeffrey Piedmonte told reporters that the police wanted to make an offer that would be in line with what the private security company would pay. 'We were hoping to work out somethingh with the authority...but that was never an option for us. They made it clear from the beginning that a security company would take over."

      The Federal Transportation Security Administration must also approve the arrangement along with the Syracuse Common Council.

      Fisher said cutting the cost of security at the airport is the first of a series of steps the Airport Authority will take to make Hancock more competitive with other airports in order to attract airlines that could lower fares.