Airport Receives Bids to Replace Police, Firefighters

San Jose’s airport looks to be moving one step closer to privatizing its fire and security services, leaving firefighters and police officers out of the loop in cost-cutting measures.

John Woolfolk of the Mercury News reports that Mineta San Jose International Airport took bids to replace police services, which cost $11 million per year, and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office came in with a low bid of $4.4 million. Wackenhut Services would replace city firefighters.

Currently, the airport is staffed by 41 officers and 12 firefighters. Police took over from an airport security staff in 1990.

Jim Unland, vice president of the Police Officers Association, told the Merc he thinks police will eventually remain in place as airport security staff, despite being far off the bid put in by the Sheriff’s Office. “I don’t think we have to match their price,” he said. “I think there’s intrinsic value in keeping San Jose’s airport with the San Jose PD. It’s not a knock on the sheriff’s office, but San Jose cops are going to do a better job.”

Wackenhut, based in Florida, is the largest U.S. government contractor for security services, the Merc reports, and would cut the city’s cost for fire protection from $3.5 million a year to $1.25 million.

Read More at the Mercury News.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. “I don’t think we have to match their price,” he said. “I think there’s intrinsic value in keeping San Jose’s airport with the San Jose PD.”

    This is another April Fools comment, right?

    If The SJ Council keeps an $11million cost when they can get it for $4.4million, those voting for that ought to be taken out and shot in front of R2D2 there in the Taj Gonzal Plaza.

    This is a metaphor, not a terrorist threat.

  2. Jim, you might be missing the bigger picture here. The city wants to diminish the power of the POA and cut payroll at the police department. It can achieve this by privatizing the airport and allowing the Sheriff’s Dept to provide police services. 6 million dollars a year in savings, plus they don’t have to hire to replace the officers removed from the airport, thereby saving additional wage and benefits long term. The actual savings is above the 6 million difference.

    The police department was revealed to be a bloated bureaucracy after the auditors report came out. Management costs have skyrocketed and it showed that the number of line officers was less than believed.

    Since the city does not believe the police department can effectively manage its personnel, the city is stepping in and forcing changes. This is just another one.

  3. This city is such a fricking joke. They spend almost $1.5 billion to remodel an airport which is hardly used. This is a bigger joke than the half a billion dollars spent on a butt ugly city hall building. They can replace all the public safety officers at the airport with people working for free, and it would save an infantesimal amount compared to the billions spent on these monuments to prior politicians stupidity. Now we have Chuck Reed wanting to squander more money on a baseball stadium.

  4. Does anybody REALLY believe that San Jose Trough Feeding Democrat Politician Airport will be less safe as a result of sidestepping the extortion tactics of SJPOA and SJFDA?
    In a few years the stellar safety record of our non-union staffed airport will serve as an example to San Jose that there’s absolutely no good reason why taxpayers should be forced to pay certain privileged, politically connected organizations way more for services that we can obtain in the free market at a much more affordable cost.
    Firemen. Policemen. Get off your high horse. You’re just human beings like the rest of us. Come on down and live amongst the mortals.

    • Galtus:

      It’s both unseemly and premature to wallow in schadenfreude about the unionistas losing their privileges at the airport.

      The unionized coppers will soon be replaced by the unionized TSA gropers.

    • What is shocking is that the City (business manager for the police department) bills the City ( bills itself??? – as business manager for the Airport.

      Not so shocking is the fact that the City apparently really sticks it to itself with the 41.8% fee….  What if the City refused to pay the City the 41.8% fee? who would they go after to collect? Yes this does sound absurd – no wait it doesn’t this is the
      City of San Jose!

  5. I vote for the Sheriff’s Office to take over the San Jose Airport, But: I think there should be serious consequences if it is later found out that the Sheriff underbid the contract to get her foot in the door and now wants more than that 9.85 % mentioned in SteveO section. OR if it is found out that there is now 4 Deputies on duty compared to 20 Police Officers (Less cost right???) which in my opinion would be less safe!

  6. While we are at it, can the City give the County back all of those “County Pockets” that they sued the City to take.  More neighborhoods to patrol and less cops = more homicides.

  7. Wow!  The Sheriff in a bold move to put SJPD in it’s place.  Gives us the Old movie line “New Sheriff in town”  I just don’t understand it.  How is the Sheriff able to undercut the Police Department by so much?  What has been going on with SJPD.  They keep getting beat down and beat down.  SJPD used to be the model of the country so we were told.  Only thing I have seen for the last couple of years is a sliver of it’s glory.  I hope the best for the men an women in blue.  Seems as if No One is standing up for them.  Sad to see.
        I think it was a knock by the SJPOA VP to say SJPD would do a better job.  I respect all Police Officers.  Kind of a poor statement.  I live in the County and have had nothing but the best things to say about S.O.  I would hope that both department officers would respect each other more than that statement.

  8. SCC Sheriff will be taking over more policing for more small city police departments, airport, jail, Valley Med because Sheriff’s public safety costs are less than most Democratic politician controlled city police department bloated costs

    Republican Sheriff can run her departmetn for less than Democratic controlled San Jose City Council’s Police Department :

    1) less union political pressure for Sheriff deputy’s to pay SJPD’s politically bloated pay and out of control early age pensions that bust city budgets

    2) less liberal politicians playing for votes to community groups asking police to ignore illegal immigrants, downtown drunks and minority crimes, attend weekly feel good community meetings and respond to another “police are guilty until proven innocent ” Police Auditor and minority community groups who file false complaints

    3) less crime in Sheriff patrolled areas after Sheriff dumped San Jose crime ridden county pockets

    Too bad Sheriff can’t be only police department in Santa Clara County – I would vote for 1 county police department

    No way will voters vote for new 1/4 cent public safety sales tax until out of control bloated pensions and pay are reduced and Council stops giving away taxes to political cronies

  9. Didn’t anyone look at the details?  SJPD currently has 41 officers working in the terminals, the airport perimeter/airfield and the roadways around the airport.  The officers work 24 hours per day 7 days per week.

    Now, the Sheriff proposes to replace all of those officers with 19 deputies?  To cover all 7 days of the week you end up with 3 deputies per shift to cover the 24 hour workday. 

    And when you consider that officers or deputies will be absent because of sick or vacation time you end up with even fewer security resources.  Even the SJPD cannot replace officers working at the airport with officers from patrol because of security measures at the airport and the special knowledge about airport operations.

    Heck, if you really don’t care about security. Cut the number of SJPD officers at the airport in half for a annual bill of $5.5 million and you still have more officers than what the Sheriff is proposing

    • That was my point above. The thing is, if the Sheriff only puts 19 deputies out at the airport and they cannot handle any certain incident, guess what? SJPD will be called to clean it up. San Jose airport is in San Jose so SJPD will provide the security for free, or at least at the cost of taking police away from a taxpaying neighborhood!!!

  10. People should examine the contract the Sheriffs Office has with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. This contract has a similar staffing levels to the one proposed at the airport and SJPD is constantly being requested to assist with VTA calls because the Sheriffs Deputies are busy, off duty, understaffed or extremely extended. What’s going to happen when you have three Deputies working on a shift and you have a vehicle accident on the roadway surrounding the airport, a suspicious package at a checkpoint and a suspicious person looking into cars in the parking garage…Oh yea, See if SJPD has any units available to respond.

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