Virginia port to replace sworn officers with security guards

Virginia port to replace sworn officers with security guards

This is a discussion on Virginia port to replace sworn officers with security guards within the In the News: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Virginia port to replace sworn officers with security guards Critics call the decision 'drastic', worry it will weaken security By Whit Richardson - 10.25.2011 The ...

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    VIP Member Array HKinNY's Avatar
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    Virginia port to replace sworn officers with security guards

    Virginia port to replace sworn officers with security guards
    Critics call the decision 'drastic', worry it will weaken security
    By Whit Richardson - 10.25.2011



    The Virginia Port Authority has announced plans to replace the majority of its 71-officer sworn police force with contract security guards, a move that has reportedly led the port's police chief to say he will resign if the layoffs are carried out.


    The port authority plans to make the cuts through a combination of early retirement and layoffs, according to Joe Harris, the port authority's spokesman. The average port police officer makes $40,587 annually, and the plan is estimated to save the port authority between $1 million and $2 million a year starting in 2013, Harris told Security Director News.


    The port authority owns the Port of Virginia, which operates four marine terminal facilities in the harbor of Hampton Roads: Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal, and APMT Virginia at Portsmouth. The port claims it’s the 3rd largest on the east coast.


    The sworn police force will be reduced from the current 71 officers to the "mid 20s" during the first five months of 2012, Harris said. The worse-case scenario—if there's no attrition and no officer takes early retirement—would mean approximately 45 officers would be laid off on May 31, 2012. The best-case scenario—if every officer eligible for early retirement takes advantage of the opportunity—would still lead to 13 layoffs, Harris said. So far, no one has chosen the early retirement option, though the deadline is not until Jan. 1, 2012, he said.


    The port authority's police chief, Andrew Engemann, told a local newspaper that he would resign if he's asked to lay off officers. Harris had no comment from the port authority other than to say that would be the chief's personal decision.


    Bob Merhige, a former deputy executive director of the port, spoke out against the decision, telling the local newspaper that it would weaken the port's security. "I was told again and again by the highest security people in Washington that we had the best security of any port in the United States, and now [the port authority] wants to rip it apart," Merhige told the Daily Press. "It's like you're at the theater of the absurd."


    The port authority completed extensive studies by security and police professionals to determine the best organizational structure, Harris said. He disagreed with the argument that replacing sworn officers with contract security guards will make the port less secure, citing examples of other ports and high-profile military and government facilities that have a mixed force. "We would not have agreed to this plan had we thought the security of the terminals would be jeopardized," he said.


    However, the plan was not designed to improve security at the port either. It was made purely because of budget constraints. "This is a decision solely rooted in economics and is an unfortunate by-product of a soft economy: It has nothing to do with the performance of the men and women on the force," Harris said. "Our cargo volumes are flat—and still down compared with 2007—and when volumes are flat it correlates to reduced terminal revenues."


    Basing the level of security on the amount of budget dollars available is not the proper way to secure vital infrastructure, according to Jay Grant, director of the International Association of Airport and Seaport Police. He called the decision the most "drastic" he's seen in recent history. "It's always too bad if we have to start looking at security just based on our budget dollars," Grant told Security Director News. "What are we going to have: Good security when we have lots of money and bad security when we have no money?"


    While he doesn't favor the decision, Grant does acknowledge that hybrid security operations with both sworn officers and non-sworn security guards is common at U.S. ports, but said this sort of "major change" requires a very fine balancing act. "On a good day a lot of people don’t think you need very many police… On a bad day you can't have enough of them. So I really think it becomes a juggling act," he said. "Frankly, I think it's too bad they're going in this direction, but it's not uncommon to have a split force."


    Ports across the country are under the same pressures and facing decisions about the best way to handle security, many arriving at very different conclusions, Grant said. An example is the California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which are next to each other. While the former has its own large sworn police force, the latter has an armed non-sworn harbor patrol and a MOU with the local municipal police department to handle security. In fact, the Port of Long Beach, Grant said, is thinking about getting rid of its harbor patrol and turning over all its security to the local municipal police force. "You have two very large ports in America side by side and they do handle their security and their law enforcement very differently," he said.


    What's needed are standards, Grant said. "One of the challenges we have in America is that we haven’t quantified security," he said. "We haven’t said what is actually needed—everyone does their own thing."


    He said his organization plans to lobby for and help develop standards and accreditation programs to determine the best practices for security of America's ports. "The firefighters have done exactly that," he said. "You reduce the number of firefighters at an airport or a sea port and your insurance will go up. It's very well laid out."


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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    I guarantee you that Security Guards making less money will be more apt to accepting bribes for looking the other way,Gangs,and Drug Dealers will be trying to get some of these guys in their pockets so they can import stuff at their leisure
    1 old 0311 and Tzadik like this.
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    It won't cost less in the long run.
    atctimmy, shooterX and Tzadik like this.
    If the Union is once severed, the line of separation will grow wider and wider, and the controversies which are now debated and settled in the halls of legislation will then be tried in fields of battle and determined by the sword.
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    You get what you pay for.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by dukalmighty View Post
    I guarantee you that Security Guards making less money will be more apt to accepting bribes for looking the other way,Gangs,and Drug Dealers will be trying to get some of these guys in their pockets so they can import stuff at their leisure
    They won't be trying to, they will succeed in doing so. If money doesn't entice them, then threats of physical violence will. This will cause more problems than it will ever solve.

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    VIP Member Array packinnova's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SFury View Post
    They won't be trying to, they will succeed in doing so. If money doesn't entice them, then threats of physical violence will. This will cause more problems than it will ever solve.
    And this is different from police officers how? I hate to rain on everyone's parade here, but police officers ARE human and ARE susceptible to the same issues.
    "My God David, We're a Civilized society."

    "Sure, As long as the machines are workin' and you can call 911. But you take those things away, you throw people in the dark, and you scare the crap out of them; no more rules...You'll see how primitive they can get."
    -The Mist (2007)

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    No "GUN's"but we do have our"VOICES",turn quickly,placing my right hand on my away hip,giving the impression that i have a gun!

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    Quote Originally Posted by packinnova View Post
    And this is different from police officers how? I hate to rain on everyone's parade here, but police officers ARE human and ARE susceptible to the same issues.
    If you have X amount of dollars for a variable number of employees, and you go from adequately paid and trained Federal Employees to private contractors, you lose quality. Money must get funneled to corporate executives which should be going to security. You get fewer guards; less adequate training; lower pay and benefits for the guards, diversion of resources.

    When a corporation gets involved there are stockholders who expect to get dividends and increasing stock value, and there are corporate executive who will get far more money than any Federal supervisor ever dreamed of. When tax dollars go to highly over paid corporate execs, the money isn't going to get a job done.

    Outsourcing stinks as a way for government to save money. It is at best a way for corrupt politicians to help their friends.

    If you want to see the absurd ends of what happens look at the
    various scandals involving all manner of companies hired to provide services in Iraq. It would have been cheaper, more efficient, and more secure to have used US Military and US employees.

    We've seen the same "bargain" effect with outsourcing to private companies to run prisons. You get disgruntled employees, prisoner abuse, and transfer of the tax dollar to the company executives.

    There is nothing that a for profit company can do as well and less expensively than government--ever-- notwithstanding all the libertarian and free market talk to the contrary. And there is a simple explanation why it can't ever work. Government doesn't have to make a profit. It doesn't have super duper over paid executives with golden parachutes and gilded health plans. It doesn't have stockholder who need to take a piece of the appropriated money as dividends.
    If the Union is once severed, the line of separation will grow wider and wider, and the controversies which are now debated and settled in the halls of legislation will then be tried in fields of battle and determined by the sword.
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    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    It won't cost less in the long run.
    No it won't. It's a very short sighted move.
    The average port police officer makes $40,587 annually
    How on earth can they expect to pay people, (competent people) any less than that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dukalmighty View Post
    I guarantee you that Security Guards making less money will be more apt to accepting bribes for looking the other way,Gangs,and Drug Dealers will be trying to get some of these guys in their pockets so they can import stuff at their leisure

    +1 Well said!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    If you have X amount of dollars for a variable number of employees, and you go from adequately paid and trained Federal Employees to private contractors, you lose quality. Money must get funneled to corporate executives which should be going to security. You get fewer guards; less adequate training; lower pay and benefits for the guards, diversion of resources.

    When a corporation gets involved there are stockholders who expect to get dividends and increasing stock value, and there are corporate executive who will get far more money than any Federal supervisor ever dreamed of. When tax dollars go to highly over paid corporate execs, the money isn't going to get a job done.

    Outsourcing stinks as a way for government to save money. It is at best a way for corrupt politicians to help their friends.

    If you want to see the absurd ends of what happens look at the
    various scandals involving all manner of companies hired to provide services in Iraq. It would have been cheaper, more efficient, and more secure to have used US Military and US employees.

    We've seen the same "bargain" effect with outsourcing to private companies to run prisons. You get disgruntled employees, prisoner abuse, and transfer of the tax dollar to the company executives.

    There is nothing that a for profit company can do as well and less expensively than government--ever-- notwithstanding all the libertarian and free market talk to the contrary. And there is a simple explanation why it can't ever work. Government doesn't have to make a profit. It doesn't have super duper over paid executives with golden parachutes and gilded health plans. It doesn't have stockholder who need to take a piece of the appropriated money as dividends.

    Honestly, when it comes to efficiency in ANYTHING...the Federal government is just absolutely horrid. There is actually accountability in the private sector...not so in the public sector. Give me the free market over government security any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
    Tzadik likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roon View Post
    Honestly, when it comes to efficiency in ANYTHING...the Federal government is just absolutely horrid. There is actually accountability in the private sector...not so in the public sector. Give me the free market over government security any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
    Whatever. Believe as you wish. There is plenty of accountability in government. You want to believe otherwise, your choice. IMO accountability in the private sector appears to mean top management gets the money from the accounts.
    If the Union is once severed, the line of separation will grow wider and wider, and the controversies which are now debated and settled in the halls of legislation will then be tried in fields of battle and determined by the sword.
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    Quote Originally Posted by azchevy View Post
    You get what you pay for.....
    Only when the money is going to the folks doing the work and not to big shots in suits.
    If the Union is once severed, the line of separation will grow wider and wider, and the controversies which are now debated and settled in the halls of legislation will then be tried in fields of battle and determined by the sword.
    Andrew Jackson

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    Senior Member Array SFury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roon View Post
    Honestly, when it comes to efficiency in ANYTHING...the Federal government is just absolutely horrid. There is actually accountability in the private sector...not so in the public sector. Give me the free market over government security any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
    You need to be part of some of the different services in the Government. There are some things mismanaged in some states, yet in others they are done so well the private sector cannot compete.

    Prisons are an overall excellent example as to why they should be run by most states or the federal government. The worst abuses have traditionally occurred in privately run facilities that cut costs to keep profits up.

    Well paid guards, with a certain level of benefits, are needed to minimize the human factor of greed to help keep things running more smoothly.

    Let's face it, you want accountability where none exists in the government yet does in the private sector. You forget the most hated and reviled profession that makes people and businesses be accountable. The IRS. If reality aligned so truly as you say, then the IRS would not bring in huge amounts of money to each state, and the federal government every year due to people trying to screw the system.

    In Wisconsin as of four years ago, for every one IRS agent we had, they brought in $1 million after all of their, and their supporting staffs, salaries and benefits were paid. A rather interesting fact.

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    Member Array Dave James's Avatar
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    As a retired Port Authority Officer, I Will say this VPA has for gotten their past, when we lost the contract at the Norfolk and Western Lambert's Point piers, the very next day that Wackenhut Security took over, they allowed a 5 million dollar load of plywood to drive out the front gate.

    VPAPD and it working relationship with the Fed's and thLong shorercommunityty is beyond compare and the the VA Ports have maintained the lowest pilferage rate on the east coast, this will change now!.

    What Gov. Allen wasn't able to do, with the hiring of this idiot from Calif as the new Director,a couple of years ago, they have donethem selfselfs, from inside

    Next will be the long term lease to the countDubai Dubia of the Ports, just so the money will roll in. Wonder how or will the Navy feel about having them next door to the largest Fleet on the East Coast.

    Harris and his ilk at the top of VPA,is what cost us the state retirement system due to their threats of going else where unless the bonuses would continue, you know pay those who run some thing more then pay those who keep it working.

    Guess Harris and the rest have forgotten the the State Policy states that when a agency of the state is reduced 50% or more it can be disbanned, the Officers should start making noise about it, the PD was all ways the largest part of the VPA
    Hopyard likes this.

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