Security is airport's top priority

Sheriff's Office drained by additional responsibility

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— The Yampa Valley Regional Airport is beginning to look elsewhere for their security needs.

On Sept. 14, after the airport reopened after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Routt County Sheriff's Office began manning the screening station during every incoming and outgoing flight.

At the time, it gave a feeling of security to travelers.

Now, it is draining much needed resources from the Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff John Warner said the airport screening station duties use half of his force, and it is not necessary to have a certified officer at the checkpoint.

By asking the airport to contract out to a private armed security company, his officers can get back to the street.

The elimination of the screening station from the list of county obligations does not mean the office will not respond to emergency calls at the airport.

The airport is in the process of putting together a request for proposals and bids from security companies.

Once the proposal is completed the YVRA will begin to advertise its need, Airport Director Jim Parker said.

The airport is required to have a security guard at the screening station for every flight since Sept. 11.

"Obviously, (the Sheriff's Office) cannot just withdraw from the airport," Parker said.

The announcement that a change was needed was not necessarily a surprise, Parker said, "but we anticipated that we would go through at least the end of this year."

The airport is annexed within the limits of the Town of Hayden. The Hayden Police Department will not be required to man the security checkpoint, Parker said, but they will, as they always have, receive the initial call from dispatch if an officer is needed at the airport.

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