The 40 police officers who work at Charlotte Douglas International Airport are being merged completely into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, and CMPD said Friday it likely will add more officers to beef up security at the airport.
CMPD Deputy Chief Kerr Putney said the changes stem, in part, from a review of airport security last year that was undertaken in the wake of the Devonte Tisdale stowaway case.
Tisdale, a high school student, breached airport security and climbed inside the wheel well of a US Airways jet bound for Boston in November 2010. When the plane approached Boston, Tisdales body fell from the plane as the landing gear was lowered.
There was no way to deny that that incident was a catalyst for a lot of discussions and concerns, said Putney, who will oversee the airport officers. This is the path forward.
The changes go into effect Dec. 15.
The police officers who work at the airport now are managed and trained by CMPD, but they report to the airport.
In the wake of the Tisdale tragedy, CMPD did a security review at the airport. After the review, the airport improved perimeter fencing, among other changes.
The 2011 report also said, in a survey of eight comparable airports, police staffing at Charlotte Douglas ranked next to last. The report also said the force does not adequately reflect the type, size and functions of a force that should be in place at a major metro airport.
City Manager Curt Walton said in an email to the Observer that the changes arent related to the Tisdale case.
Methods by which to enhance security are reviewed every day in response to ever-changing security challenges, so these changes are in response to no single event or review, Walton said.
Putney said in addition to the CMPD officers there are existing private security employees and Transportation Security Administration workers at the airport. He said the CMPD officers would become more pro-active after being folded completely into the chain of command.
We focus on crime issues, Putney said. We will focus on crime fighting and public safety.
Aviation director Jerry Orr couldnt be reached for comment Friday.