Sunday, May 12, 2013

Security a concern as leaders review police presence at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (KCLT), Charlotte, North Carolina



City leaders told Eyewitness News the police presence at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport could be reduced.

Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee said Saturday he's reviewing the role of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department at the airport. City Council voted last year to switch out airport-run security officers with CMPD officers.

It was a move that boosted costs at the airport and one of the big reasons lawmakers said they wanted to take away control of the airport from the city and give it to a regional authority.

As visitors make their way through the busy baggage claim at Charlotte-Douglas, one concern is at the top of their mind.
"I just think safety is the number one thing," said Tina Yount.

Another traveler from Oregon, Blyson Black said, "Security is the number one issue."

After city leaders were shocked by a study recommending an authority run Charlotte-Douglas, they're now looking to Carlee for their next move. He's reviewing how the city runs the airport, including how many officers are there and how much it costs -- all in hopes to keep the airport in the city's hands.

"I see no reason why most if not all of the benefits perceived to be derived from an authority cannot be achieved as a city department," Carlee said.

The city manager said he will be speaking further with airport director Jerry Orr and Police Chief Rodney Monroe about security specifics. He also revealed he plans to reach out to successful city-run airports, like Chicago's O'Hare.

"I'm not willing to do anything that would endanger the public," Charlotte City Councilman Michael Barnes said. Rising security costs are paid for by airport tenants like US Airways and Barnes said he believes the costs are necessary when it comes to the safety of visitors to Charlotte-Douglas.

"If you are asking me if I would be willing to have a dangerous security situation in order to keep costs down then the answer would be no," Barnes said.

Barnes said while the city may scale back officer shifts, it won't remove officers just to reduce cost. Visitors to Charlotte-Douglas are taking notice.

"You need more security at the airport with everything that has been going on," Yount said.

Carlee said he will soon be speaking with state lawmakers about the issue. As for when the review will be presented to council, Carlee said it's "in development."

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