The Medford airport has signed a five-year agreement with a private security company that will replace Medford police with armed guards, saving an estimated $152,332 a year, airport officials said.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved a $774,694 contract Wednesday with RAMS Specialized Security Service Inc. Eight companies responded during the bidding process.
"If somebody has a suspicious item or a weapon, these guys will be there to handle that," airport Director Bern Case said.
The armed guards will be stationed in the terminal at the screening and check-in points.
The airport pays Medford police $48.75 per hour for 17 hours of work a day year-round, totaling $302,493.75 this year, airport officials said.
Under the new contract with RAMS, the airport will pay $24.20 per hour for 17 hours of work a day year-round, totaling $150,161 for the first year. That will deliver $152,332 in savings, officials said.
Funds to pay for the security will come out of the airport's operating budget.
Medford police have had a contract with the airport since 2006. But Transportation Security Administration funds that helped pay for them have been reduced, leaving the airport to make up the difference.
"This kind of gets it back into reality for us," Case said.
The switch means a loss of three full-time positions, but Medford police Chief Tim George said no layoffs will be necessary because his department had a comparable number of unfilled officer positions.
"We knew it was coming," George said, adding police will still respond to the airport for any necessary arrests while security personnel hold the scene.
"We will definitely be attached at the hip to the airport still," he said.
Case echoed George's sentiment, saying the airport will continue to work with police even though officers will no longer be stationed in the terminal.
"The police department will still respond anytime we need them to," Case said.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.