NFL Teams Host Anti-Terrorism Training Sessions for Stadium Parking Professionals

NFL teams are being encouraged to participate in the training in First Observer, a government-funded Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) national security program that uses parking professionals and others as foot soldiers in the war against terrorism.
"First Observer has become a very important initiative for us," explains Shawn Conrad, CAE, Executive Director of the International Parking Institute (IPI), the largest trade association of parking professionals and the parking industry. "There are now close to two thousand First Observer-trained parking professionals and we anticipate that number to grow exponentially over the months ahead." IPI was instrumental in developing the parking-specific First Observer training module and next week will receive TSA's Partner of the Year Award.

According to Jeffrey Miller, the National Football League's director of strategic security programs, "We are eager to provide NFL personnel with access to meaningful training opportunities, and from the positive feedback I've received, the First Observer program fits the bill."

Miller is encouraging all NFL teams to take advantage of this free, government-sponsored training.  "We appreciate the foresight of the International Parking Institute in bringing the First Observer program to the attention of the NFL," said Miller. Two teams have already completed training and Miller predicts that many others will be scheduling First Observer training in the months ahead.

Administered by 'Team HMS' and launched earlier this year at the International Parking Institute's annual conference and Expo in Las Vegas, the parking-specific module of the First Observer program is offered classroom style for organizations, online, on site, customized, as well as train-the-trainer sessions. More information on the training is available at IPI's Web site at and organizations that want to schedule a free training session may contact IPI Deputy Director Henry Wallmeyer at or 540.371.7535, ext. 21.

Many program participants are trained by Jeff Beatty, the only American to have served in all three of the nation's most elite counter-terrorism organizations, having served in the military's Delta Force as an assault troop commander, as a special agent advising the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, and as a CIA Counter-terrorism Center case officer in the Europe and the Middle East.

Can a one-night, anti-terrorist training session make a difference? "Yes," explains William Arrington, general manager, Transportation Sector Network Management/Highway and Motor Carrier Division at the Department of Homeland Security, who, along with Beatty, conducts First Observer trainings throughout the United States.

Arrington explains that the training arms parking and other front-line professionals with the skills they need to address five critical security areas: on-street, surface lots, garages/decks, special events and shuttle operations. The training enables these professionals to identify a potential threat, provides background on different terrorist groups and their patterns of operation, gives an overview of weapons, and details case studies of terror situations. First Observers build the skills to report potential situations using a concise, accurate and simple communications process. The program follows the National Preparedness Guidelines of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Transportation Security Administration this month will honor the International Parking Institute (IPI) with its 2010 Partnership Award for IPI's involvement in developing First Observer's parking-specific training program. IPI is the largest and leading association of parking professionals, and the First Observer program has become an important initiative for the organization.

The recent failed car bomb in a parked car in Times Square and the discovery of the alleged bomber's getaway car in an airport parking lot are vivid reminders that parking professionals are key players on the front lines in the fight against terrorism. With thousands of vehicles entering parking facilities each day and the possibility that any of them could be carrying terrorists or devices made by terrorists, IPI members and partners play a critical role.

IPI's Conrad says: "We look forward to working with other sports teams and stadium managers as we drive home the message that national safety is everyone's responsibility."

According to Conrad, very few members of the public understand the role that parking professionals play in everyday life.  He explains: "The front-line parking professional may greet you at the stadium, but a parking consultant probably worked side by side with the stadium architect and the city economic development team to ensure that parking dovetails with facility and area transportation needs."

About The International Parking Institute

Founded in 1962, the International Parking Institute is the largest trade association representing the parking industry. Members include professionals from cities, port authorities, civic centers, academic institutions, hospitals, airports, theme parks, corporate complexes, race tracks, transit and transportation agencies, convention and sports centers, architects, engineers, financial consultants, urban planners, commercial parking operators and suppliers of equipment, products and services to the parking and transportation industry.
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