Reduced police shifts approved to cut costs at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport |

Reduced police shifts approved to cut costs at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport

Jeff Himler
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Passengers wait to embark their flight to Fort Myers, as Spirit Airlines nears their 2 millionth passenger through Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity Township, on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

Westmoreland County Park Police will roughly cut in half the hours they spend at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in a move that is expected to increase efficiency and save money.

The police have officers assigned to the Unity airport for two 8-hour shifts per day, providing an extra layer of security in addition to federal Transportation Security Administration personnel who screen passengers in line to board flights.

But, according to county airport authority Solicitor Dan Hewitt, “We don’t need (park police) that long, and the cost becomes more than we need to be spending.”

The average cost for police coverage at the airport is $40 per hour, authority Executive Director Gabe Monzo calculated. He said the airport receives a reimbursement from the TSA of just $20 per hour, during two hours allotted for each Spirit Airlines flight departing to Myrtle Beach, S.C., or destinations in Florida.

Hewitt said county officials approached the authority with a proposal for fewer hours. Under a revised agreement the authority approved this week, reduced police shifts will begin two hours before each scheduled flight and end a half-hour after the departure.

On an average day, when Spirit has three departing flights, scheduled police shifts at the airport would be reduced from 16 hours to 7.5 hours.

“It’s great to have them here, but you have to be reasonable and try to eliminate extra costs,” Monzo said of the park police.

“It will help them with their bills and help us with our coverage,” County Park Police Chief Henry Fontana said of the airport. “The park police can be more fluid. Instead of being stationed there, they will be able to move to other county properties.”

In addition to coverage during flight departures, the airport is included in regular police patrols of county properties including its parks, Fontana noted.

“We handle all of their police needs, from rental cars that aren’t returned to parking violations,” Fontana said of the airport. “We’ve always got somebody close by.”

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.