Airport Contracts For More Security Guards

June 21, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Kent County Aeronautics Board approved Wednesday a contract with D&R Security Inc. for supplemental security personnel at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport to handle additional security measures required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) since Sept. 11.

The heightened security measures are labor intensive and exceed the staffing capabilities of the airport’s existing law enforcement staff, said Operations Director Robert Benstein.

He said the airport’s immediate need is for 840 hours of additional staffing weekly, or about 24 full-time positions.

Aeronautics Director James Koslosky pointed out that the supplemental guards will be supporting the airport’s — not the airlines’ — security functions and that they will not be working checkpoints.

The contract security guards support non-law officer enforcement functions such as managing and controlling the airport’s front curb, screening vehicles entering the airport, and manning vehicle gates.

Since Sept. 11, airport fire, parking and maintenance personnel had been working overtime to cover those positions, Koslosky added.

Contract terms call for D&R Security to furnish six unarmed security guards from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week and to cover their worker’s comp insurance and general liability coverage.

The contract is to be invoiced bi-weekly and the director is authorized to approve payment on a bi-weekly basis rather than wait for approval at the board’s monthly meeting.

Benstein said the airport still has some additional law enforcement officer requirements and continues to use Kent County Sheriff’s Department reserve officers to fill those. However, those assignments are billed on an overtime basis, so the airport frequently comes up short on staffing. The contract gives airport officials more control over the staffing schedule, he said.

John Van Laar, the board’s chairman, inquired about the contract security guards’ level of training. Benstein said D&R provided an initial 6.5-hour training program in addition to written tests that cover general but not airport-specific security, and that was followed by six hours of site-specific training at Ford International.

The $14,690-a-week contract went into effect Thursday for an initial term of one year, but the contract allows for termination upon 10 days’ written notice. If the contract guards are retained for a full year, it will cost the airport nearly $780,000.

Because those unforeseen costs weren’t budgeted for, Koslosky said he and officials of other airports are working with Congress to assure the airports will get cost recovery going back to Sept. 11 as well as going forward.

He said the measures the airport had in place from Sept. 11 to Oct. 31 were short-term measures and the airport is now entering a stage of interim measures.

“But the new, ultimate security regime that we may enter will probably have additional requirements and at that time we will review both contract and FTE (full time equivalent) positions to fulfill those requirements. So this is an evolving process.”

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