September 08, 2009
A refresher on Fusion Centers
PoliceOne Senior Editor Doug Wyllie
We have it in our minds every single day, but this week we take an additional moment to remember the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. As we do so, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to review some of the thinking behind the creation of Fusion Centers, where information can be freely shared among public safety agencies.
The Department of Justice (in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) defines a Fusion Center as a “collaborative effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise, and information to the center with the goal of maximizing their ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity.”
DOJ goes on to say that a fusion center is an effective and efficient mechanism to exchange information and intelligence, maximize resources, streamline operations, and improve the ability to fight crime and terrorism by analyzing data from a variety of sources.
DOJ articulates the need — and the challenge — for such facilities and processes. “The development and exchange of intelligence is not easy. Sharing this data requires not only strong leadership, it also requires the commitment, dedication, and trust of a diverse group of men and women who believe in the power of collaboration. How can law enforcement, public safety, and private entities embrace a collaborative process to improve intelligence sharing and, ultimately, increase the ability to detect, prevent, and solve crimes while safeguarding our homeland?”
When you go on shift to protect our streets (from enemies both foreign and domestic), we encourage you to bear in mind that the evolution of these Fusion Centers is constant. Changes are made to policies, processes, best practices, even as new technology is folded into the mix. “It goes beyond establishing an information/intelligence center or creating a computer network,” DOJ says.
Talk with your commanders about what’s new in your area. Ask your neighboring jurisdictions what they’ve been up to.
If you’re curious to learn more about Fusion Centers, this 2006 DOJ document remains an excellent resource.