PITTSTON TWP. — Because of staffing issues with the Pittston Township Police Department, instead of having township officers staffing a security checkpoint inside the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport for 16 hours a day, the township will have an officer stationed there only from 4 a.m. to noon daily.
From noon to 8 p.m., Avoca has agreed to provide an officer to man the checkpoint.
The airport’s Bi-County Board of Directors approved three separate agreements during its meeting on Thursday. It agreed to have a Pittston Township officer on duty 365 days a year in the morning, it approved having an Avoca officer on duty 365 days a year in the afternoon and evening, and it approved an agreement between the two departments to give arrest power to Avoca officers as they work inside the airport terminal, which is in Pittston Township.
George J. Bieber, the director of safety for the airport, said Pittston Township had been providing the officers for 16 hours a day, which is a requirement of the federal Transportation Safety Administration, but two municipal officers went out on disability in recent months, leaving the department short staffed. Avoca was approached about filling the gaps and agreed.
Both municipalities will receive $20 per hour for providing the officer, which equates to $58,400 per town annually for a total of $116,800. The TSA pays the money with the stipulation that the money must go 100 percent to the officer’s pay, insurance and related costs such as the officer’s uniform.
Airport Director Barry J. Centini said that there are few, if any, flights that arrive or depart between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., so having an officer for those eight hours wasn’t a priority. He said the agreement with the municipalities will not cost the airport a dime.
The airport contracts with Vector Security to provide armed guards but TSA rules require law enforcement officers to provide checkpoint security.
Centini said that in down times between arriving and departing flights, the officers will conduct routine patrols inside and outside of the terminal.