SAN JOSE (KCBS) – The question of whose police officers will patrol Mineta San Jose International has become a political hot-potato in San Jose.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department downplayed scathing comments by the captain in charge of the San Jose Police Department’s operations at SJC.

“We have told them what we can do for the price. If they elect to go with us, we will give them good service. If they choose to stay with the City of San Jose, that’s fine,” said Assistant Sheriff Edward Perry on Monday.

He was responding to an interview with the San Jose Mercury News published over the weekend where Captain Jeff Smith accused Sheriff’ Laurie Smith of a power grab.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

Smith has been critical of the proposal before the city council, stemming from the Police Department’s multi-million dollar deficit, to contract airport security services to sheriff’s deputies.

San Jose Police have provided security at Mineta San Jose International Airport since 1990.

The police department’s SWAT teams, bomb sniffing dogs and larger numbers, if back-up is required, make it the logical choice, Smith told KCBS when the city council first took up the proposal.

Perry dismissed those concerns, since deputies assigned to SJC would receive aviation training.

The Sheriff’s Department already provides training for officers who work in contract cities and on the Valley Transportation Authority system that are specific to the situations in their assigned locations.

Perry seemed reticent to escalate the feuding, noting that the primary consideration for the San Jose City Council was cost.

“We are both fine law enforcement agencies and whether it’s the San Jose Police Department or the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, I think both agencies are capable of providing first class law enforcement service to the airport.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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