New police force takes over at Syracuse’s Hancock Airport
Syracuse NY March 8 2023
A new police force is now in charge at Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport.
The newly formed Syracuse Regional Airport Authority (SRAA) police department will be staffed by two full time employees—a chief and a captain—and 19 part-time officers.
SRAA Executive Director Jason Terreri said he expects the change will give the airport more control over staffing and a high level of customer service.
“Travel can be stressful for folks,” said Terreri. “When you come to an airport, you look for that familiar face. You look for somebody who’s willing to help.”
The department is led by Chief Mark Werbeck, who worked for 25 years with the Syracuse Police Department before retiring, including as commanding officer for the airport section.
“I’ve loved working out here,” Werbeck said, while speaking at the airport. “It was an enjoyable time, and I can’t think it would be other than that as we move forward with the police department.”
Most of the officers in the department are retired law enforcement officials from places including the Oneida Nation, New York State Police, and the Sheriff’s Department.
“I think the greatest appeal is, they’re going to be working directly with the public as they travel through the airport,” said Werbeck. “During the interview process, a lot of the officers expressed their desire to continue on with the community policing aspect that they learned throughout their careers and getting back to that community engagement.”
State Sen. John Mannion was a sponsor of the legislation authorizing the new police force. He said it’s an important step to ensure safety and promote growth in the area.
“Syracuse is already on the map,” he said. “So, we need a first class airport to meet the demands in the future of what’s coming.”
Chief Werbeck said he hopes officers will each take 2-3 shifts per week. They can work up to 29 hours weekly.
The switch marks the first time in decades a new, officially recognized law enforcement agency has been created in New York state. The new police force will provide around the clock coverage at the airport.