Grand Forks Struggles With Airport Security - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Grand Forks Struggles With Airport Security

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The Grand Forks Airport has a security problem.  Security protection remains in place. But, it's changed hands again, and now there's a discussion about who is going to pay for it.

   Grand Forks had to drop the private firm that was providing security at the airport. TSA, the Transportation Security Administration ruled that private firm didn't meet regulations, because it didn't have the authority to make an arrest.

  So, after a private firm handled airport security for the past year and a half, Grand Forks Police are back on the job.

Troy Vanyo, Grand Forks Police: "Our job is to assist TSA with any issues they have with passengers and contraband."

  The problem is that the TSA will only reimburse airports at a top rate of $20 an hour. But, since Grand Forks Police are already short staffed, it means having an officer who's on overtime at the airport for $40 an hour. The police department is taking a $20 an hour hit.

Lt. Mike Ferguson, Grand Forks Police: "I think citywide we're hiring for a lot of positions. It is a staffing challenge, yes."

Reporter: "Meaning, you'd rather not have your officer sitting out at the airport on overtime?"

Ferguson: "Well, there could be better uses of them."

  At this point, talks between the Airport Administration, City and Police Department are ongoing.

  Some officials say it seems likely the City will wind up paying the extra cost for more police officers to provide airport security.

  Grand Forks Airport Administrator, Patrick Dame says the Fargo Airport could soon face the same problem. He says another possible solution is a change in legislation that would grant private security firms the power of arrest at airports. He says that would accommodate the TSA's current regulations.


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