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Parking ticket officers get training on how to spot suspicious activity

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 Detective Joe Rovnan of the city's Counterterrorism Unit holds up a backpack that could be used to house an explosive device (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Detective Joe Rovnan of the city's Counterterrorism Unit holds up a backpack that could be used to house an explosive device (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

The Philadelphia Parking Authority’s front-line officers had training in homeland security this week.  They’ll serve as extra eyes and ears in the fight against domestic terrorism.

About 200 parking enforcement officers take to the streets daily in Philadelphia and Detective Joe Rovnan of the City of Philadelphia’s Counterterrorism Unit said they can detect changes in the environment during those regular patrols.

“Basically they all hit on suspicious packages, suspicious vehicles and persons, something that stands out from what is going on in that environment someone who seems lost, someone who doesn’t display a tag properly a vehicle parked unattended, a bag that’s left unoccupied on the streets.”

Rovnan says the program was developed before some of the bigger events in recent history.

“We thought it was important to understand the more eyes in the field the better it is for us through blanket coverage of a lot of agencies pitching in and taking care of this country together.”

The officers are told not to take direct action, but to call 9-1-1.

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