Sacramento County Board of Supervisors does about face on airport security issue

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Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 - 12:40 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 - 7:08 pm

In an about face, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors today voted to withdraw the county's request to replace federal Transportation Security Administration screeners with private workers at Sacramento International Airport.

The Sacramento airport had been on track to become one of the first large airports in the country to participate in an opt-out program that would turn checkpoint security over to a private company. Federal officials had been analyzing that request, and were due to decide this year whether or not to grant it.

The 4-1 vote came after lobbying from industry officials and other local leaders, including local assemblymen Roger Dickinson and Richard Pan. Pan said the county should not make the move before it hires a new county airports director, which is expected to happen in the coming months.

The board initially OK'd the privatization plan last year at the request of then-airport director Hardy Acree. Acree argued that private screeners would offer more staffing flexibility and that he believed they would also provide better customer service. Acree retired last month.

A recent federal report suggests security would not be much different whether it is handled by the TSA or by a private company that follows TSA protocals and is overseen by the TSA.

Supervisor Phil Serna said the board should not bother trying to fix something that is not broken. He said he was concerned as well that some local TSA employees would lose their jobs.

"I am not persuaded changing the system we have is in the best interest of the county and traveling public," Serna said.

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