The Medford airport has signed a five-year agreement with a private security company that will replace Medford police with armed guards, saving an estimated $152,332 annually, airport officials said.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved a $774,694 contract with RAMS Specialized Security Service Inc. at their weekly public meeting Wednesday. Eight companies responded during the bidding process.
"If somebody has a suspicious item or a weapon, these guys will be there to handle that," airport director Bern Case said.
The armed guards will be stationed in the terminal at the screening and check-in points.
The airport currently pays Medford police $48.75 per hour for 17 hours of work a day year round, totalling $302,493.75 this year, airport officials said.
Under the new contract with RAMS, the airport will pay $24.20 per hour for 17 hours of work a day year round, totalling $150,161 for the first year. That will deliver $152,332 in savings.
Funds to pay for the security will come out of the airport's operating budget.
Medford police had a contract with the airport since 2006. But TSA funds that helped pay for them have been reduced year over year, leaving the airport to make up the difference.
"This kind of gets it back into reality for us," Case said.
The switch means a loss of three full-time positions, but Medford police Chief Tim George said no layoffs were necessary, as his department had a comparable amount of unfilled officer positions.
"We knew it was coming," George said, adding police will still respond to the airport for any necessary arrests while security personnel hold the scene. "We will definitely be attached at the hip to the airport still."
Case echoed George's sentiment, saying the airport will still work with police, just that officers will no longer be in the terminal.
"The police department will still respond anytime we need them to," Case said.
— Ryan Pfeil