Port Canaveral security operations to be taken over by sheriff's office

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PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. —

Commissioners in Port Canaveral are moving forward with a plan to turn over port security operations to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.

The plan would mean dismantling the Port Canaveral Police Department, which was created just five years ago using around $20 million in grant money.

"We need to focus on cargo, we need to focus on cruise, we need to focus on recreation -- the things that make this port the great port that it is," Port Canaveral Commissioner Tom Weinberg said.

The port currently has roughly 73 security personnel and sworn police officers. But Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said consolidating the department into his agency makes sense both financially and logistically.

"It was about the ability to have that infrastructure, the bomb squad, the crime scene, all of that that comes with it," Ivey said.

The sheriff estimates that if he had been in charge of security this fiscal year, he could have saved Port Canaveral half of $1 million. A quick money-saver would be eliminating the port's dispatch center because the Sheriff's Office has its own.

Ivey said he sees the Sheriff's Office' hiring many of the port's officer. But one commissioner is worried about unforeseen costs.

"If it's determined later that the Sheriff's Office is not providing the level of service required by the state, we have no where to turn," commissioner Jerry Allender said. "Once we've disbanded our police department, there's no turning back."

Port commissioners are expected to vote on a final contract in August.