Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Fusion Center?
Fusion Centers are a collaborative effort involving information sharing between
two or more agencies with the goal of maximizing the ability to detect, prevent, investigate,
and respond to criminal and terrorism activity. They are typically operated by state
and local governments. Although Fusion Centers pre-date the September 11th attacks,
the concept gained momentum and has been supported by state and local law enforcement
and homeland security officials in recent years.
Why Fusion Center’s were created?
Following the attacks on September 11th at the World Trade Center
and Pentagon, it was apparent that we must share information in order to prevent
future terrorist activity. As a result, the US Department of Homeland Security
was created in March 2003 to help protect the United States of America from
future attacks on American soil. In June 2003, the Alabama legislature
unanimously voted to establish the Alabama Department of Homeland Security, the
nation’s first state cabinet level department. Following the creation of the
department the Alabama Fusion Center and other state centers were established
throughout to “fuse” information between multiple levels of government and
What does a Fusion Center do? How does a Fusion Center “fuse” information?
State and major urban area Fusion
Centers provide analysis and information sharing capabilities that support the
efforts of state and local law enforcement to prevent and investigate crime in
our local communities and address our most pressing national challenges such as
gangs, border violence, narcotics, homicides and terrorism.
Fusion Centers receive information from
a variety of sources, such as state and local tips and leads, and federal
information and intelligence.
Through blending or “fusing”
information and applying human analysis – the Fusion Center creates analytic
products that are timely and relevant to their customers needs.
This allows state and local law
enforcement to address immediate and emerging threat-related circumstances and
events. It also supports risk-based, information-driven prevention, response,
and consequence management programs.
Who Are Fusion Centers’ Customers?
Fusion Centers create a variety of
products (strategic and tactical) that are tailored to their customers’ needs.
Depending on the center’s mission their customers may include:
State and local law enforcement
Fire, Public Safety, Emergency Management, Public Health, and other first responders
Homeland Security officials at all levels
Elected Officials and other stakeholders
Why are Fusion Centers Important? How do Fusion Centers help local communities?
Fusion centers provide an analytic resource that supports the efforts of state and
local law enforcement to prevent and investigate crime in our local communities.
They also address our most pressing national challenges such as gangs, border violence,
narcotics, homicides, natural disasters and terrorism.
Fusion centers also provide
an effective and efficient information sharing and collaboration mechanism, receiving
information from a variety of sources, including federal, state, and local entities,
and ensuring timely and relevant information is provided to the right stakeholders
within their geographic area of responsibility. The Federal Government uses Fusion
Centers as the primary focal points within the state and local environment for the
receipt and sharing of terrorism-related information. Federal agencies also provide
terrorism-related information to state, local, and tribal authorities primarily
through these fusion centers, which may further customize such information for dissemination
to satisfy intra- or interstate needs.
How do Fusion Centers help the Nation/Federal Government?
The National Strategy for Information
Sharing calls Fusion Centers “vital assets” – and has designated them as the
primary focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt and
sharing of terrorism-related information.
Fusion Centers provide the Federal
Government with critical state and local information and subject-matter
expertise that it did not receive in the past -- enabling the effective
communication of locally generated terrorism-related information to the federal
Integrating and connecting these state
and local resources benefits all of us; it creates a national capacity to
gather, process, analyze, and share information in support of efforts to protect
Fusion Centers also enable intrastate
and cross-state sharing of information and analysis through the Information
Sharing Environment (ISE). By participating in the ISE, Fusion Centers are able
to share information in a secure manner, ensuring the information is protected
from unauthorized disclosure, and equally important, ensuring that the
information that is shared, is done in a manner that protects the privacy and
civil liberties of Americans.
Establishing a national integrated
network of State and major urban area fusion centers is a key part of the effort
to improve the sharing of terrorism information across the United States.
How do we ensure Fusion Centers are protecting Privacy, Civil Liberties and
Fusion Centers are owned and operated by state and local governments, but they must
operate under the authorities of existing Federal, state, and local statutes. Fusion
Centers are an analytic resource and information sharing mechanism, but they are
not a part of the National Intelligence Community, nor do they manage domestic collection
activities on its behalf. All Fusion Centers have now established and are implementing
privacy and civil liberties policies in accordance with the baseline capabilities
requirements. The Federal Government provide training, support and guidance to ensure
that the privacy and civil liberties policies established by Fusion Centers are
consistent with Federal Guidelines.
How are Fusion Centers different from Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs)?
JTTFs are FBI-sponsored,
multi-jurisdictional task forces established specifically to conduct terrorism
related investigations. Analytic and information sharing efforts carried out by
the JTTFs are done solely to support those investigative efforts.
Fusion Centers are by contrast state
and locally owned information analysis centers that focus on analyzing
information regarding a broad array of criminal activity for the purposes of
trend and pattern analysis intended to support state and local police actions to
mitigate emerging crime problems, including terrorism.
Fusion Centers are not investigative
entities and do not focus solely on terrorism.
How many Fusion Centers are there?
As of this date, there are over 78 state and major urban area fusion centers operating
in the 50 states and US territories.
What policies guide Fusion Centers and the Federal Government’s support to
Fusion Centers are owned by state and
local governments and are subject to the laws and oversight of their
state/locality. The policy framework that has developed over the past five
years, fall into two categories:
- Guidelines are developed by state and local officials, for use by state and local officials;
- Federal law and policy and national strategy – outlining why and how the Federal Government should support state and
urban area Fusion Centers, while respecting the sovereignty of state and local
How are Fusion Centers funded?
Fusion Centers are owned and operated
by state and local governments. Fusion Centers are funded through state or
local budgets and Federal grants.
Fusion Centers and the work they
perform are considered eligible activities for several types of DHS and DOJ
grant programs (examples include: DHS’s State Homeland Security Program and the
Urban Areas Security Initiative, and DOJ’s COPS and Byrne Justice Assistance
If a Fusion Center is using federal
grant funds, they are required to prioritize their allocation of grant funding
to meet the baseline capabilities identified in the Baseline Capabilities