KANSAS CITY, Mo. – There was a touchy issue on the table Wednesday about the Kansas City Police Department and whether it should assume control of policing at Kansas City International Airport.
The Kansas City Aviation Department has its own security team it trains and oversees to provide security at the Charles Wheeler Downtown Airport and KCI.
The Kansas City Council has asked the Aviation Department to provide a report about what it would look like if KCPD takes control.
The idea of making a change in security at Kansas City’s airports has been kicked around for years.
With the new terminal being built, some city leaders believe with more expected flights and increasing traffic, it’s time KCPD takes over to provide a higher level of security.
“Most airports operate this way. We are one of the very few that do not, so I think it’s time we take a look at that,” Councilwoman Teresa Loar said.
Loar is the chairwoman of the transportation committee and believes airport security should be at a level to handle things like terrorism, hostage situations, drug trafficking and human trafficking incidents.
“Our Kansas City, Missouri, police officers are well-trained in all of those areas, plus just theft and whatever else is going on,” Loar said.
Joe McBride, spokesperson for the Aviation Department, said airport police provide more than safety and security.
“We have a great track record of safety and security and also customer service at the airport,” McBride said.
“Understand that it is a fine line, really, providing safety and security, but also customer service for those people. People are trying to find a flight and might be lost, confused, so they also act as airport ambassadors.”
In January, Aviation Director Patrick Kline sent a letter to the interim city manager, expressing his displeasure with the proposed change. He cited the following:
- A significant cost increase for no service level increase
- Pushback from airline partners because of cost
- Possible penalties from the Federal Aviation Administration for revenue diversion and grant money payback
- The Aviation Department would lose control of directing airport security
“We have a great track record with the airport police officers, and I’m very proud of what they are doing,” McBride said.
The Aviation Department is one of two money-making city departments. It pays for its police force and would also pay for KCPD security, so the department would not necessarily be affected by the extra work.