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Parking attendants and meter maids could be the nation’s latest line of defense against terrorist attacks.

A new government program aims to train thousands of parking industry employees nationwide to watch for and report anything suspicious — abandoned cars, for example, or people hanging around garages, taking photographs or asking unusual questions.

Organizers say parking attendants and enforcement officers are as important to thwarting attacks as the two Times Square street vendors who alerted police to a smoking SUV that was found to contain a gasoline-and-propane bomb.

“We can no longer afford as a nation to say, ‘It doesn’t impact me or my family, so therefore I’m not getting involved,'” Bill Arrington of the Transportation Security Administration told parking industry professionals at a convention this week in Las Vegas. “We’re saying, ‘Please, sir, get involved.'”

The program has been in the works for about a year and gave its first presentation at the convention, attended by hundreds of people who run parking operations for cities, universities, stadiums and other places around the country.

Funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and administered by TSA, the program teaches parking lot operators to watch for odd activities that could precede an attack by days or months: strange odors such as diesel from gasoline vehicles, cars parked where they shouldn’t be, people who seem to be conducting surveillance by taking photos or drawing sketches.

Would-be terrorists may attempt to gain access to sensitive places or materials by applying for jobs or asking employees strange questions, said Jeff Beatty, a former FBI and CIA agent who led the training in Las Vegas.

Source: MSNBC

…in addition…

A program funded by FEMA and run by TSA teaches parking lot operators to watch for odd activities that could precede an attack by days or months: strange odors such as diesel from gasoline vehicles, cars parked where they should not be, people who seem to be conducting surveillance by taking photos or drawing sketches

A new government program aims to train thousands of parking industry employees across the United States to watch for and report anything suspicious — abandoned cars, for example, or people hanging around garages, taking photographs or asking unusual questions.

Organizers say parking attendants and enforcement officers are as important to thwarting attacks as the two Times Square street vendors who alerted police to a smoking SUV that was found to contain a gasoline-and-propane bomb.

“We can no longer afford as a nation to say, ‘It doesn’t impact me or my family, so therefore I’m not getting involved,’” Bill Arrington of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) told parking industry professionals at a convention this week in Las Vegas. “We’re saying, ‘Please, sir, get involved.’

AP reports that the program has been in the works for about a year and gave its first presentation at the convention, attended by hundreds of people who run parking operations for cities, universities, stadiums and other places across the country.

Paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and administered by TSA, the program teaches parking lot operators to watch for odd activities that could precede an attack by days or months: strange odors such as diesel from gasoline vehicles, cars parked where they should not be, people who seem to be conducting surveillance by taking photos or drawing sketches.

Would-be terrorists may attempt to gain access to sensitive places or materials by applying for jobs or asking employees strange questions, said Jeff Beatty, a former FBI and CIA agent who led the training in Las Vegas.

The program is part of a larger effort by the government since 9/11 to enlist ordinary people — airline passengers, subway riders, bus drivers, truckers, doormen, building superintendents — to serve as the eyes and ears of law enforcement.

Beatty said the idea is not to turn ordinary people into government agents. “You’re not going to be Jack Bauer. You’re not going to be James Bond,” he said. He said, however, that terror attacks like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people often are preceded by warning signs.

For example, Timothy McVeigh parked a getaway car in an alley near the Oklahoma City federal building with a note asking that it not be towed. He practiced walking from where he would park the truck to his car to time how long it would take to escape. Similarly, in the attempted Times Square bombing, the SUV was parked illegally on the street, its engine running.

Source: Homeland Security Newswire

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