By Alex Smith

16-04-12 picHomeland Security: a phrase that hid in the shadows of the American public until the morning of September 11, 2001. Since that tragic morning, Homeland Security has become something that is embedded in every part of our culture, from shopping at the mall to going to the grocery store and even parking our cars.

So you may be asking yourself, “Alex, what in the world does Homeland Security have to do with parking?” The answer is this: everything. There are people around the world and in our country, counties, cities, and towns who wish to cause as much fear and suffering as possible. There are a multitude of threats that exist in the world today. Whether the threat is a suicide bombing, an active shooter, or even a disgruntled customer, we as parking professionals have to be ready to respond. While we will never be able to stop every incident from occurring, we can do everything in our power to mitigate the risks and minimize the impact to our operations, community, and country.

Here are some Homeland Security-related parking tips:

  1. Work with your local, state, or federal law enforcement partners to learn more about risks that exist in your area and what you can do to help mitigate them.
  2. Foster an environment of awareness. If you see suspicious activity, report it immediately to the appropriate authorities. Even the minutest detail could prevent the worst from happening.
  3. Develop and implement an emergency response plan. In the heat of the moment, having a plan committed to memory or available for reference could help save lives.

Alex Smith is operations program supervisor with the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority. He will be speaking about this topic at the 2016 IPI Conference & Expo in Nashville, Tenn., May 17-20. For more information, visit

For more resources related to parking, safety, and security, please visit the Resource Center.