HGEA files lawsuit to stop privatization of airport security


The state’s largest public workers union has filed a lawsuit against the Hawaii Department of Transportation to keep it from using private security to perform law enforcement and policing services at Honolulu International Airport.

The state recently awarded Securitas a three-year, $130 million contract for security at all Hawaii airports.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association believes security should be handled by the state Department of Public Safety’s Sheriffs Division.

“Hawaii sheriffs are professionally trained officers who are best qualified to perform law enforcement duties at the Honolulu International Airport, our state’s busiest port of entry,” said HGEA executive director Randy Perreira. “We as a community have always entrusted law enforcement duties to the state sheriffs and the Honolulu Police Department. We shouldn’t be outsourcing this work to a private vendor.”

The complaint says contracted security personnel initially wore uniforms identifying them as “Airport Security” and their services were intended to be limited to checkpoint, fence, and entry-way security, and to ensuring that vehicles did not park at drop-off and pickup locations.

Over time, the complaint says, the state expanded the roles of some contracted security personnel to include: carrying weapons and making arrests; conducting traffic stops; being designated first responders to security breaches, medical emergencies, and other unsafe or potentially criminal situations.

Some security personnel now wear badges and uniforms similar to the Honolulu Police Department uniform and use police-package style vehicles instead of security-type vehicles, HGEA says.

View the complaint in its entirety here.

We reached out the DOT, but were told officials cannot comment on pending litigation.

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