State explains decision to terminate agreement for deputy sheriffs at Honolulu airport


The Hawaii Department of Transportation is speaking out about its decision to release deputy sheriffs from patrols at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

As we first reported, transportation officials notified the Hawaii Department of Public Safety of its intention to terminate the interdepartmental agreement in 180 calendar days.

The reason: the department believes the agreement, which began July 1, 2002, is out of date.

“The safety and security of the passengers, employees and the entire airport community continues to be of utmost importance,” said transportation director Ford Fuchigami. “As the contracting agency, HDOT is ultimately responsible for providing the best possible services and security at its facilities.”

That doesn’t mean deputy sheriffs would be gone for good. Transportation officials say they are willing to work with the public safety department to create a new agreement.

“The end of the current agreement is now the starting point for us to make operational, legal, and personnel related improvements that meet the HDOT Airport Division’s requirements,” said public safety director Nolan Espinda. “We understand we are on the clock to make the improvements before the end of the year and we are working to make the necessary adjustments.”

The Honolulu airport is the only airport in the state with deputies stationed at the facility. Sheriffs’ deputies will respond to Kalaeloa Airport and Dillingham Airfield as needed.

In addition to Securitas, Homeland Security, CBP/ICE, DEA and FBI have armed employees at the airport.

“There are two very distinct and separate functions for the private and public security agencies. The two agencies do not cross over in their daily responsibilities,” the DOT explained in a press release. “The role of Securitas is to enforce the TSA-approved Airport Security Plan (ASP). This is to ensure that all security preventive measures are met to the satisfaction of Transportation Security Administration Office of Inspections.”

Sheriffs’ deputies respond as needed and assist with arresting and transporting suspects. The Sheriff’s Division Airport Section complements Securitas.

There are currently 72 armed Securitas law enforcement officers and nearly 300 total Securitas officers working at HNL during a 24-hour day. There are 57 total uniformed Sheriff’s deputies assigned to HNL.

Securitas has had arrest power since being awarded the contract in 2004, as did the previous security firms that had the contracts prior to Securitas.

There are three categories of Securitas officers:

  • Law Enforcement Officer (LEO)/Contract Security Supervisor (CSS)/Contract Security Manager (CSM): Per HRS 261-17 LEO/CSS/CSM have the authority to carry firearms and badges, issue citations, and make arrests while on State of Hawaii Airport property. LEO/CSS/CSM follow the Airport Security Plan governed and approved by Transportation Security Inspectors and federal government. The extensive LEO qualifications, training and background process is attached separately.
  • Airport Security Officer (ASO): Unarmed, uniformed security officer certified and registered by the State of Hawaii under Act 208, HRS 463-10.5, to provide visible security and patrol of the entry/exit points for airport tenants and vehicles into the sterile areas of the airport and, if needed, assist in the traffic control of vehicles and pedestrians on the public side of the airport.
  • Traffic Control Officer (TCO): Unarmed, uniformed security officer certified and registered by the State of Hawaii under Act 208, HRS 463-10.5, to provide directional control for the safe movement of pedestrians and vehicles on the non-sterile side of the airport.

Private security companies have worked to keep Hawaii’s airport facilities safe since 1976. Securitas was awarded the Oahu and Hawaii County contract in 2004 and the Maui and Kauai districts contract in 2007. They are paid for via airport-generating revenue, such as landing fees, terminal rentals, parking revenue, passenger facility charges and concessions, and federal funds.

The Department of the Attorney General will continue leading felony investigations related to airport property.

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