FUSION CENTERS 9
BaselineCapabilities for State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers
Whenthey were introduced, Fusion Centers were designed to improve theexchange and sharing of anti-terrorism intelligence among differentlocal, state, and federal law enforcement agencies (HomelandSecurity, 2015).The scope of their mission has significantly changed, and today theycover all crimes. The nature of the information they seek foranalysis has also expanded with time to encompass private and publicsector data (Bart,2011).Unlike in 2003-07 when the participants were mainly law enforcementagencies, the centers have grown to include military, governmentbodies and certain members from the private sector (Leonard,2009).Positioned in states and key urban centers in different parts of thecountry, fusion centers are distinctively designed to empower frontline law enforcement, emergency response, and private sector securityapparatus. Other functions include fire services, public health, andimportant infrastructure protection to understand local ramificationsof national intelligence. Its main goal is to improve the efficiencyof local officials to protect their communities (Nemeth,2013).
Fusionscenters are owned and run by local and state bodies with the supportfrom the federal government in the form of technical help, securityclearance, personnel, exercise support, technology, and grantfunding. In the recent past, there have been privacy concerns amongmembers of the public, in an era when Americans are under immensethreat of unprecedented privacy infringement (HomelandSecurity, 2015).Also there are serious concerns whether these centers are effectiveways to preventing criminal activities and terrorism and whether thegrant funding for development of fusion centers from the federalgovernment is a prudent use of public money (ACLU,2008).Even so, local and state governments have been increasing theirinvestment in the fusion centers without appropriately evaluatingwhether they serve a necessary purpose. It is evident that there isnothing particularly wrong with the local and state governmentseeking to do an exemplary task of properly sharing legitimatelygathered information and data about law enforcement investigations,especially in the knowledge that 9/11 showed that information sharingis vital to improving security and policing in the country (HouseU.S., 2007).
Evenso, in a democratic country that respects rights of its citizen, thecollection and sharing of intelligence information, particularly thatwhich relates to the American citizens need to be conducted with theutmost care New bodies such as fusion centers must be administered inan open manner and their ramifications on privacy and other essentialvalues meticulously worked out (ACLU,2008).And just like any other entity in a democracy, the fusion centersmust be assembled in a warily bounded and controlled manner withenough checks and balances to avoid abuse. This paper will seek toexemplify the baseline capabilities for state and major urban areaFusion Centers.
Localand state fusion centers have been created in a way to redress theunique information of the local area, the state, the territorialauthorities and other stakeholders in the private sector (Nemeth,2013).Through collaborative efforts, the fusions centers are expected tomaximize the capacity and ability of a local area or state agenciesto detect, prevent, investigate, apprehend and respond to criminalactivities (Nemeth,2013).
Thebaseline capabilities fusions centers capabilities will be organizedinto two main parts. The first part will exemplify fusion processcapabilities while the second part will exemplify management andadministrative capabilities. Fusions process capabilities outline thestandards required to adequately perform the steps of theintelligence process within a given fusion center. On the other handmanagement and administrative capabilities are those that enable theproper functioning and management of the fusion center sot that theyattain the set goals (Departmentof Homeland Security, 2010).
Planningand requirement development
Inthis phase, a sound foundation is set for all the types ofinformation that will be gathered by the fusion centers. The lawenforcement agencies, department of homeland security and analyticcenters are identified (United States Department of Justice, 2008).The communication methodologies and coordination procedures aredeveloped to ensure harmony. Aspects relating to the dissemination,warning, alerts and notification messages and situational reports arealso addressed.
InformationGathering and Collection
Afterall essential aspects relating to information sharing anddissemination are fully formulated, the information is gathered fromlaw enforcement agencies, the private sector, and safety agencies(United States Department of Justice, 2008). Fusions centers haveinformation collection and reporting strategies that highlightcommunication methods, information needs and overall informationcollection process. Fusions centers formulate mechanisms that helpthem receive, catalog, and store information provided to the fusioncenter (United States Department of Justice, 2008).
Processingand Collation of Information
Fusionscenters have tools to process and collate information andintelligence received to help conduct a thorough and accurateanalysis.
IntelligenceAnalysis and Production
Fusionscenters should have analytics tools to develop, implement andmaintain a production plan that explains methods of analyzes, andresult they intend to provide to their partners and client.Basically, analytic products include reporting of suspiciousactivities, risk evaluation, warnings and notifications, alerts andsituational awareness (Kshemendra, 2012). There should be anintelligence manager to supervise the collection, collation,analysis, dissemination and re-evaluation of the information andintelligence in the fusion center. Privacy policies and protocolsestablished by relevant bodies should be followed in the wholeprocess.
Fusioncenters are supposed to have particulars tools and protocols todisseminate the intelligence gathered in the most appropriate format.
Fusioncenters have tools that develop and execute a plan to re-assess theperformance of the center.
Managementand Administrative Capabilities
Itis crucial for fusion centers to have succinct and clear prioritiessince there are limited resources and many demands from variousstakeholders. Governance structures enable the centers to create aconducive environment that supports the mission, goals and demands ofdifferent clients (United States Department of Justice, 2008). Itfacilitates assignment of tasks, development, and implementation ofpolicies and allocation and management of limited resources. Fusioncenters have governance structures that provide adequaterepresentation to all the disciplines and areas within center’srealm
Americansa very conscious of their privacy rights and fusion centers havedeveloped privacy protection policies and methods to ensure propercollection, analysis, dissemination, and storage of intelligence.
Fusionscenters have also established appropriate security policies admeasures to protect the facility, information, and personnel in thecenter. This is done in line with protocol and rules established byrelevant security departments (United States Department of Justice,2008).
Fusioncenters are also required to develop a staffing plan based on theobjectives of the center and needs of various stakeholders. Thismeans that there is a competent and skilled workforce in alldepartment of the fusion center to help attain the goal of the center(Kshemendra, 2012).
Fusionscenters are supposed to establish and define their operationalprocesses before they buy and develop information and communicationsystems. This means the collection, sharing, analysis and storage ofinformation will be conducted without hitches and relayed to theappropriate agencies (Kshemendra, 2012).
Fusionscenters are supposed to conduct all their operational and functionsbased on the available funds. Based on the current priorities, theoperational budget should be set, to ensure maximum use of resources.
Thebaseline capabilities address the policies ad plans connected toprocesses, standards, and procedures required to carry out variousaspects of the Fusion Centers smoothly. The baseline capabilities aremeant to ensure that the operations of the fusion centers are in linewith set protocols and rules, and avoid infringing on the right ofAmericans. They are meant to support and enhance the process ofcollecting, analyzing, storage and dissemination of informationrelating to various security issues in the country. Many of thebaseline capabilities mentioned in the paper should be developedconcurrently to attain the desired results.
AmericanCivil Liberties Union (ACLU). (2008). What`sWrong With Fusion Centers – Executive Summary?Retrieved from:https://www.aclu.org/report/whats-wrong-fusion-centers-executive-summary
BartR. J. (2011). FusionCenters: Strengthening the Nation’s Homeland Security Enterprise.Police Chief Magazine.Retrieved from:http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=2315&issue_id=22011
Departmentof Homeland Security. (2010). 2010Baseline Capabilities Assessment of Fusion Centers and CriticalOperational Capabilities Gap Mitigation Strategy.Retrieved from:http://www.dhs.gov/2010-baseline-capabilities-assessment-fusion-centers
Fagel,M.J (2010). Principlesof Emergency Management and Emergency Operations Centers (EOC). CRCPress.
HomelandSecurity. (2015). NationalNetwork of Fusion Centers Fact Sheet.Retrieved from:http://www.dhs.gov/national-network-fusion-centers-fact-sheet
House(U.S.). (2007). Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 CommissionAct of 2007, Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1, July 25, 2007.Government Printing Office.
Kshemendra,P. (2012).WhiteHouse Releases New National Strategy for Information Sharing andSafeguarding. InformationSharing Environment (ISE). Retrieved from:https://www.ise.gov/blog/kshemendra-paul/white-house-releases-new-national-strategy-information-sharing-and-safeguarding
Leonard,B. (2009). NationalStrategy for Information Sharing: Successes and Challenges inImproving Terrorism-Related Information Sharing.DIANE Publishing.
Nemeth,C. P. (2013). HomelandSecurity: An Introduction to Principles and Practice, Second Edition.CRC Press.
TheUnited States Department of Justice. (2008). BaselineCapabilities for State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers: ASupplement to the Fusion Center Guidelines.Retrieved from:http://it.ojp.gov/documents/d/baseline%20capabilities%20for%20state%20and%20major%20urban%20area%20fusion%20centers.pdf