Private airport security firm faces scrutiny for hiring fired officers

Private airport security firm faces scrutiny for hiring fired officers
Updated: Mar. 30, 2017 at 5:42 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At least six law enforcement officers who were fired were then subsequently hired by a private security firm at Honolulu International Airport in recent years, Hawaii News Now sources say.

Securitas gets paid $36 million a year by the state, and provides "airport police" and other security services at the airport.

In recent years, they've been at the center of several high-profile incidents. Most recently, a Securitas officer fatally shot at family's dog at Honolulu International, and the dog's family said the guard "overreacted" and discharged his weapon near an infant and other bystanders.

HNN also learned that the security guard was terminated in 2014 from the Department of Defense, where he was a civilian law enforcement officer for a decade. He posted on social media that an argument with a religious group is what got him fired from the Army.

But he's not the only fired law enforcement officer to then be hired by Securitas.

Former Honolulu police officer Darren Cachola was fired for unprofessional behavior after surveillance video of him fighting with his girlfriend was sent to the media in 2014.

Cachola was never charged with any crimes and, sources say, he was able to qualify for a job with Securitas as an airport police officer.

Two HPD motorcycle officers, one fired after a DUI arrest and another accused of theft, were also working at the airport after being terminated from HPD.

A former sergeant who was involved in a game room beating is another officer who spent time with Securitas at the airport before his federal conviction.

And Securitas also picked up an officer who was fired shortly after graduating from the Honolulu Police Academy while on field training.

State Sen. Will Espero said the situation is unacceptable.

"Why are we having terminated law enforcement officers being hired by private contractors that we have contracts with?" he asked.

Espero believes state deputy sheriffs should be the only gun-carrying law enforcement officers at the airport.

Randy Perreira, executive director of HGEA -- the union for state employees -- agrees.

HGEA is suing the Department of Transportation over the use of private security at the airport.

"What we've seen is a very steady erosion of their responsibility and increased role for Securitas as a private contractor," Perreira said. "More often than not, Securitas is the first responders with the sheriffs coming in as back up and that's backwards frankly as we're concerned."

Espero said it would result in better oversight if the private security guards are kept out of the policing aspect of the airport.

Supporters of the Securitas hiring process, meanwhile, say it provides a second chance at a career for fired officers who haven't been convicted.

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