The Waterford Township Police Department has been given the green light to begin implementing enhanced security measures at the Oakland County International Airport (OCIA) complements of a hefty grant.
The additional security measures are intended to detect and disrupt criminal and terrorist threats.
The department, which has primary law enforcement jurisdiction over the airport, was awarded a $250,000 Urban Area Security Initiative Grant so various responding agencies can monitor and observe activities on and near the airport property through 21 strategically placed security cameras.
“This is something we’ve wanted to do for many years, but the funding wasn’t available,” said Police Chief Dan McCaw.
Responding agencies include the Waterford Township Police Department, OCIA Administration, the OCIA Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting Unit, and others, such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.
“These cameras can be monitored by central dispatch, mobile units and at our mini station at the airport,” said Oakland County Director of Central Services J. David VanderVeen. “They are particularly helpful during dignitary visits and other events, and an added level of protection. Anything to reduce exposure to terrorism is a plus.”
In addition, surveillance footage around perimeter areas of the airport, the main terminal interior and exterior, parking lots and points of ingress and egress will be archived for review and evidentiary purposes.
The cameras have the capability to pan, tilt and zoom into a target several hundred yards away.
Moreover, an alarm protection system will be added to the Michigan Task Force for Urban Search and Rescue Mobilization Center at the airport, which houses $4 million in rescue supplies and equipment for catastrophic events.
This system will be used to detect any breach in security. Five surveillance cameras will be installed along perimeter entry points and interior areas of the hangar. If the alarm is activated, Waterford police officers would be the first responders.
Interoperable communications, wireless networking and surveillance systems are some of the tools Waterford police are levying to improve policing services. Video and audio intelligence of a potential threat at the airport equips local, county, state and federal law enforcement in doling out mobilization efforts.
“This is high-tech equipment,” McCaw said. “We’ll be able to reach out from command vehicles and the Police Department to view airport approaches and egresses, etc.”
The OCIA also is home to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department Aviation Unit; 14 fixed-base operations companies; 800 corporate aircraft; and 478 T-Hangars.
The OCIA is the second busiest airport in Michigan and the sixth busiest general aviation airport in the United States. Due to its recent expansion and improvements to its main terminal, air traffic at the airport is expected to increase. International business travel has already spiked; therefore, a U.S. Customs Office was added that also performs border checks.
Now that the Waterford Township Board of Trustees approved the grant acceptance at its Monday, July 23 meeting, McCaw said he plans to meet with OCIA administration and contractors to discuss deploying the cameras.