Tri-Cities Airport Changing Law Enforcement - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Tri-Cities Airport Changing Law Enforcement

PASCO, Wash. - The Tri-Cities Airport is getting rid of its full-time police staff. Airport leaders plan to lay off all full-time Port of Pasco Police Officers and use Franklin County Sheriff's Deputies to fill their place.

This is isn't the first time the Port of Pasco considered switching over to Franklin County Sheriff's Deputies. They're making the change now because in the long run they finally think save more of money.

Sam Hansen works as a Port of Pasco Police Officer. He's kept the peace the airport for over 20 years, but this July the Port of Pasco is replacing him and the two other full-time officers with Franklin County Sheriff's Deputies.

"Certainly with the three of us losing our jobs it's not a good feeling," Hansen said. 

Hansen and the other full-timer's contracts expired in 2005. But after negotiations the Port of Pasco felt the Franklin County Sheriff's Office could provide the same service at a cheaper price.

"It's very unfortunate where it ended up, but the long term financial arraignment looks to be the best way to go," said Port of Pasco Executive Director Jim Toomey.   

Franklin County Sheriff Richard Lathim said the county will hire four new deputies with money he gets from the contract, but said the airport gets a bargain too. He plans to pepper the airport with a seasoned staff.

"They're a lot fresher I think, and have a lot more experience coming into the airport then what they've had in the past because their officers they've just been working that terminal for quite a few years," said Lathim.   

As for Hansen he doesn't know how to handle the switch.

"How do you fight that? When they say they're the ones that'll do the budget. They're the ones that say it costs more," said Hansen.   

The Port of Pasco plans to sign their half of the new contract Thursday this week.