CHICAGO (CBS) — Some powerful Chicago aldermen want to get rid of TSA officers at Chicago’s two airports, and switch to private security officers, in an effort to alleviate the dreadfully long lines at security checkpoints.
Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke (14th), Aviation Committee Chairman Michael Zalewski (23rd), and two other aldermen said Chicago should follow the lead of cities like San Francisco, Orlando, and Kansas City and join the federal Screening Partnership Program.
Burke said 21 U.S. airports use private firms to screen passengers, and he is co-sponsoring a resolution calling on Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans to apply for the TSA Screening Partnership Program at O’Hare and Midway airports.
“It’s working in San Francisco, isn’t it? And it’s working in 20 other airports around the country. What we do know is it’s not working here with TSA, so maybe it’s an opportunity to give private industry a chance to show whether or not they can do it right,” Burke said.
The TSA already has pledged to send 58 new security officers and four extra bomb-sniffing canine teams to O’Hare in the next couple weeks. In addition, 100 current TSA officers at O’Hare and Midway Airport will be moved from part-time duty to full-time duty within days to help during peak travel hours, and 250 more officers will be added to the airports by August. More morning shifts also will be added, and authorized overtime will be tripled.
Even with the extra help being approved by the TSA, Ald. Danny Solis (25th), who also co-sponsored the privatization proposal, said the need is obvious.
“We are really hurting the industry, we’re hurting constituents, that they can’t get on a plane on time; and I think if you look at it, it could also be an opportunity if you try to expand it to the private sector. We’ve got a number of security companies both in Chicago and nationally that I think could fit the bill, if properly vetted,” he said.