The state has hired the private company Securitas to provide security at all of Hawaii’s airports for at least three more years, despite recent allegations of bribery.
The state says the new contract takes effect this week.
Last month, four Securitas officers were indicted for accepting bribes at Honolulu International Airport.
Since then, the state has been criticized for hiring a private company instead of using sheriff’s deputies. KHON2 has been pressing the state to explain why.
The state Department of Transportation says it’s been happy with the job Securitas has done at the airports for the past 12 years.
The state was paying Securitas $37 million a year to secure all 11 airports. The current contract pays the company $43 million.
DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara says the state is paying more because costs have gone up and Securitas workers are now unionized, but using sheriff’s deputies to do the job would cost even more.
The state says hiring sheriffs and deputies to provide security at the airports will cost another $6 million a year, in part because of overtime and other benefits.
Sakahara says there’s also the extra cost for liability insurance, uniforms, and equipment, which is already included in the Securitas contract.
He adds that the company has been working for the state since 2004, and the state has been happy with their performance.
“Tens of millions of passengers have come through the airports since that time and there’s been no major incidents involving those passengers, so they’ve done overall a very positive job for Hawaii,” Sakahara said.
When asked about the bribery charges, Sakahara responded, “I can’t talk about that, any pending litigation.”
KHON2 asked travelers if they have more confidence seeing sheriffs and deputies as opposed to those provided by a private security company.
“I give a lot of respect to those in authority versus private because you really don’t know what you’re getting mixed up in for yourself,” said California resident Joe Saltsman.
Sakahara points out that Securitas has officers who provide security and manage traffic, and some who are also trained law enforcement officers (LEOs), who can carry weapons and make arrests.
“So in order to be an LEO with Securitas, they have to have two years of experience with a bona fide law enforcement agency. They also have three background checks just to get on with Securitas and a drug-screening test,” Sakahara said.
In addition to the three-year contract, the state also has the option to extend with Securitas for another two years.
KHON2 reached out to Securitas and a spokesman says the company is bound by contract to let the DOT comment on its behalf.