Will layoffs lessen security at Houston airports?

May 5, 2011 3:18:20 PM PDT
The next time you head to Bush Intercontinental Airport, you may notice something different -- less of those people wearing yellow shirts that say 'Security.' They're among the 130 workers being cut at the airport. We wanted to know if they really provided security and the answer we got from one of them may surprise you.

Of the 130 workers laid off, 68 of them belonged to the yellow shirt security unit. Now some of them say they are frustrated with city leaders for calling them out.

We could spot some city employees still hard at work one day after major layoffs at the airport. But it's the message coming out of the Mayor's Office that has some of the airport yellow shirt security upset right now.

"The yellow shirts were never really security officers. It's unfortunate that their shirts said that," said Janice Evans with the Mayor's Office.

With shirts so bright you can't miss them, some laid off airport courtesy officers are now wondering why the city has been telling the public and travelers that they are security for years.

"I feel that security officers are able to secure, you know, and we were not able to secure. We don't have any weapons, all we have is a whistle and a radio," one laid off employee told us over the phone.

He agreed to speak with us if we didn't publish his name. He told us travelers feel comfortable with them around. He says some of his co-workers are highly trained, but not equipped to do the work that's written on their shirts.

"I don't understand why they put security on those uniforms. It's really a risk if you ask me, to put us in harm's way by saying we are security and there is now way we can defend ourselves or others," said the former employee.

The mayor's spokesperson says the previous airport director formed the so-called security team years ago during his failed attempts to start a public safety department at Bush and Hobby airports. Evans says the new airport director believes the city can save $3 million by eliminating most of those positions.

The yellow shirt workers say they have done a lot to keep the airports and travelers safe.


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