Number of passengers growing at Florida Airports, but are the number of police officers?

10Investigates: As TIA is growing, are the number of police officers growing with it?

At Tampa International Airport, construction is underway and passenger numbers are up, way up.

This tweet announcing the airport had its busiest spring break in history with nearly 3.8 million passengers in March & April.

In just the past 5 years the number of passengers at the airport has increased by the millions. But even so, the number of officers has stayed the same.

From 2008-2011, there were 66 officers at Tampa International Airport.
Today, there are just 65.

The number went as low as 60 in 2015.

Records requested by 10 Investigates shows it's pretty much the same trend all across the state of Florida, from Jacksonville to Fort Myers, and Orlando.

Except for this year, Orlando went from 72 officers to 84.

“It’s more than just police officers, It’s technology. We have over 1000 cameras that we’ve grown even with renovations. It’s how we police. We have explosive detection dogs. We are adding a k9 team,” says Chief Paul Sireci, Tampa International Airport Police Department.

Tampa International's Police Chief says while the number of passengers is up, the calls are not.

“Right now, we feel comfortable with the numbers here and add technology on top of that,” says Chief Sireci.

At the Fort Lauderdale International airport where Esteban Santiago is accused of opening fire in a baggage claim area killing 5 people, our partners from USA Today report that as traffic grew by the millions since 2014, Broward County never hired more deputies.

“Before we get concerned, I think we need to take a look at the situation overall. The number of passengers doesn't dictate officer standing, it's based on activity of law enforcement,” says Craig Gundry, Security Expert.

Gundry says you have to look at more than just the numbers.

“There are certain things we could implement more effectively to aid with incidents like what we had in Fort Lauderdale. Having more rapid alert notification and gunshot detection services may only buy 15 seconds but that 15 seconds matters a lot. Keep in mind in an active shooter situation one victim killed every fifteen seconds,” says Gundry.

“We put in for a federal grant through FEMA for a system called Guardian. It's a firearm detection system. It reads flash of gun and sound,” says Chief Sireci.

Chief Sireci acknowledges that the airport in Tampa is growing, not just by passengers but by space.

A new hotel. New gas station. Rental car lot.

He says when all this construction is complete, we will definitely need more officers.

 

 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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