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 various agencies.

 

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 Disciplines
  • 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 government.

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 the nation.

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 Civil Rights?

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?

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 governments.


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 grants).

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 Document.