Georgia airport replaces cops with private security force

Aug. 27, 2008
New TSA policy allows private security firms to protect nation's airports

The Glynn County Airport Commission has found a way to cut overtime for county police officers at Brunswick Golden Isles Airport.

It's replacing them with a private security force.

That's now possible under a new policy of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, which oversees airport security. Legislation no longer requires airports to pay police departments to stand watch while passenger planes land and take off.

"For a number of years, TSA required that this security be certified law enforcement officers, so for years we paid Glynn County officers overtime," said Steve Brian, executive director of the Glynn County Airport Commission. "Now it just has to be an armed security guard."

A grant the airport has received since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon pays for security, which has been costly because it has involved overtime pay.

Brian had hoped the money could be used to help hire additional police officers and eliminate overtime. That never happened.

"It would take a significant amount of time for Glynn County to hire officers, to train them and then to turn them over to the assignment," Brian said. "That's why the airport commission took different steps."

The airport commission has hired Regional Protective Services, which is based in Brunswick.

"As far as I know, this firm is the only one that does it locally, Brian said.

"The Glynn County police were doing a great job, and we liked having Glynn County folks here.

But the private sector will be cheaper. That's the nature of private security."