Sanford airport to privatize security screeners



SANFORD, Fla. - Orlando-Sanford International Airport is about to become one of the few airports nationwide to get rid of Transportation Security Administration security screeners. Instead, the airport will handle security on its own.

Traveler Mark Riegler of Iowa told WFTV he feels safe with the TSA screeners at the airport.

"People pay attention to you. They pay attention to your baggage, what you're carrying," Riegler said.

But the airport is about to dump the TSA. Recent legislation gives more power to airports that want to opt out of TSA services.

Right now, 16 airports nationwide have opted out and gone private.

"TSA shall accept their applications, and they can't worm out of getting the best, most cost-effective model in place that we've had tested and evaluated," U.S. Rep. John Mica said.

The Sanford Airport has already chosen three prospective private security firms, including Covenant Security out of Casselberry. It handles airport security at the San Francisco International Airport.

But airport CEO Larry Dale would go a step further. He wants a hybrid model that includes himself in the security process.

"It's responsibility. You should not shunt your responsibility. I'm already responsible as the chief executive officer here, for what, the security of this airport," Dale said.

Right now, the TSA has 65,000 employees on its payroll books. Critics said that's too many and a waste of taxpayer money.

A government study last year found private security firms at airports are significantly more efficient and effective.

Travelers like Riegler, however, aren't convinced.

"It'd be like taking your local police and fire department and outsourcing them to the lowest bidder," Riegler said.

The TSA will make the ultimate decision on which private security firm is hired to take over screening at the airport. The chosen company will be required to follow TSA protocols.