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Fusion Centers and Intelligence Sharing

Justice Information Sharing
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Fusion Centers and Intelligence Sharing

"In developing our country's response to the threat of terrorism, public safety leaders from all disciplines have recognized the need to improve the sharing of information and intelligence across agency borders.  Every law enforcement, public safety, and private sector official involved in information and intelligence sharing has a stake in this initiative.  Leaders must move forward with a new paradigm on the exchange of information and intelligence."

Excerpt from
The Role of Leadership,
Fusion Center Guidelines

As part of the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative's (Global) efforts to develop fusion center guidelines, the Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council (CICC), in support of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), recommended the creation of the Fusion Center Focus Group. This focus group was tasked with recommending guidelines to aid in the development and operation of fusion centers.

Concurrently, the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) Intelligence and Information Sharing Working Group focused on developing guidelines for local and state agencies in relation to the collection, analysis, and dissemination of terrorism-related intelligence in the context of fusion centers. The recommendations resulting from the HSAC's efforts assisted in the development of the fusion center guidelines.

The development of guidelines for fusion centers was separated into three phases-law enforcement intelligence, public safety, and the private sector.  The Fusion Center Guidelines:  Law Enforcement Intelligence, Public Safety, and the Private Sector, covering all three phases, is now complete and available. These guidelines may be used for homeland security efforts, as well as all crimes.  By integrating these guidelines, agencies can resolve and overcome many common obstacles. In addition, guidelines can help guide administrators in developing policies, managing resources, and evaluating services.

What Is a Fusion Center?
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 merging data from a variety of sources. In addition, fusion centers are a conduit for implementing portions of the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan(NCISP).

Excerpt from
Fusion Center Guidelines:  Executive Summary
 Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan

The ultimate goal of a fusion center is to provide a mechanism where law enforcement, public safety, and private partners can come together with a common purpose and improve the ability to safeguard our homeland and prevent criminal activity. A police officer, firefighter, or building inspector should not have to search for bits of information. They should know to call one particular place-the jurisdiction's fusion center.

The Fusion Center Focus Group, whose mission was to further many of the tenets outlined in the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan (NCISP), included experts and practitioners from local, state, and federal law enforcement and public safety agencies, as well as representatives from DOJ, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In addition, members from national law enforcement and public safety organizations, the private sector, and currently operating fusion centers participated in the focus group's efforts.

The focus group members recommended that the guidelines include all crime types and that centers provide an array of intelligence services. In addition, the group recommended that centers be scalable based on the needs of the city, state, or region and should conduct tactical, operational, and strategic intelligence functions in support of criminal investigations.

As a result of the focus group's work, 18 guidelines were developed:

  1. The NCISP and the Intelligence and Fusion Processes
  2. Mission Statement and Goals
  3. Governance
  4. Collaboration
  5. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
  6. Database Resources
  7. Interconnectivity
  8. Privacy and Civil Liberties
  9. Security
  10. Facility, Location, and Physical Infrastructure
  11. Human Resources
  12. Training of Center Personnel
  13. Multidisciplinary Awareness and Education
  14. Intelligence Services and Products
  15. Policies and Procedures
  16. Center Performance Measurement and Evaluation
  17. Funding
  18. Communications Plan

Also included in this report are additional resources, model policies, and tools for implementation to assist agencies in integrating the guidelines.