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Meridian officers to staff airport

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
May 22, 2002
Meridian police officers will work to keep the Meridian Regional Airport safe after Mississippi National Guardsmen end their tour-of-duty that began shortly after Sept. 11.
Meridian city councilmen voted Tuesday to let police work the airport. The national Transportation Security Administration has said law enforcement officers must staff airport security check points.
Williams said the airport authority will reimburse the city for the officers' work. Then, he said, the TSA will reimburse the airport authority.
Meridian officers will begin working at the airport on May 28. Two Meridian officers will staff the airport's only security check point in two eight-hour shifts each day.
Ken Storms, Meridian's chief administrative officer, said it is something that the city "has to do. It's like another precinct in the city. We have to do it. There is no other recourse."
Williams said he hopes federal officers will begin staffing airport security check points sometime in November. But until then, he said, the Meridian officers are needed to fill the void.
Meridian councilmen agreed, approving the move by a 4-0 vote. Before the vote, two councilmen questioned how the MPD will handle the extra work while struggling with a shortage of officers.
Council President George Thomas said he didn't want the city's safety to suffer.
But Meridian Police Chief Benny DuBose assured the council that the city's safety would not be threatened. He said the airport "will be treated like another territory."

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