National Strategy for the National Network of Fusion Centers 2014-2017


2014–2017 National Strategy for the National Network of Fusion Centers

  • 36 pages
  • July 2014


The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, galvanized law enforcement leaders across the nation to improve the sharing of criminal intelligence needed to prevent future terrorist attacks. The resulting rapid evolution of fusion centers has underscored the need to formalize a forward-looking, national-level strategy specific to the fusion center network. The 2014–2017 National Strategy for the National Network of Fusion Centers (2014–2017 National Strategy) establishes a vision, a mission, goals, objectives, and initiatives that are needed for the National Network of Fusion Centers (NNFC or National Network) to systematically improve intelligence information sharing beyond existing and successful criminal intelligence in support of law enforcement investigations.

The vision of the 2014–2017 National Strategy is to connect the geographic and public safety diversity of over 38,000 states, counties, cities, and towns together in a way that creates a national information sharing asset that is coordinated with and contributes to federal information sharing efforts. Federal efforts to connect the knowledge and capabilities of the Intelligence Community (IC) often involve state and local law enforcement joining federal efforts. The NNFC is the reversal and broadening of this framework, inviting federal partners to join state and local public safety information sharing efforts. In carrying out this strategy, IC professionals have an opportunity and avenue to bring their knowledge and capabilities to state and major urban area fusion centers, designated by governors and staffed by state and local professionals. As a unique national asset, this state and local network must work seamlessly with field-based intelligence and information sharing entities, providing geographic and interdisciplinary knowledge and perspective without interrupting or replicating federal efforts. The 2014–2017 National Strategy integrates with other criminal intelligence sharing efforts supported by the Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council.

This strategy crosses boundaries of discipline and jurisdiction in support of public safety professionals who serve on America’s front lines every day, protecting individual civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy as they secure the safety and security of the nation. The landscape of America is diverse and so are the homeland security challenges faced by individual jurisdictions. This requires fusion centers to do more than push homeland security information; it requires a robust network of experts who can integrate local information with national intelligence to customize intelligence products to meet both needs and expectations. This strategy builds a framework for initiatives aimed to improve interdisciplinary, cross-jurisdictional sharing of information so that our public safety providers possess the right information, in the right context for their discipline and jurisdictions, to effectively implement strategies in information-driven and risk-based major crime/terrorism prevention, protection, response, and recovery. The foundational structure of this strategy integrates this multidisciplinary, cross-jurisdictional vision of information sharing. The four strategic goals address what might in a different context be considered “customer” bases. Yet, in order to best understand the 2014–2017 National Strategy, these “customers” are identified as partners; this strategy acknowledges the interdependence of partners and the shared responsibility for major crime and terrorism prevention, protection, response, and recovery.

The first goal—and the central reason for the NNFC—addresses partnership with the public served by the fusion center. State and local public safety providers who staff fusion centers, by the very nature of their positions, are charged with protecting individual rights, liberties, and privacy as they secure the safety and security of their jurisdiction and the nation. The 2014–2017 National Strategy recognizes that a trust-based relationship with the public is critical to the success of the National Network and that the public is served when the National Network is utilized to support information sharing needs in both steady state and emergency operations.

The second goal addresses the needs of those who serve the public within an individual fusion center’s area of responsibility. Although the vast majority of crimes are solved by law enforcement patrol, violent crime is also a significant public health issue. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were the deadliest day in history for our firefighters and emergency management systems, and emergency medical systems are impacted by and play a central role in bringing effective and lifesaving assistance to emergencies daily. Therefore, all public safety providers must be included in—and served by—the NNFC.

The third goal recognizes that the value of the NNFC is greater than the sum of individual fusion centers; cross-disciplinary intra-fusion center performance is enhanced by active network collaboration. Because violent crime and terrorism are threats to our nation, the specialized knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience of one center must be available to all centers, while the increased capacity and analytical capability of the National Network must be available to all governors and major urban areas.

The fourth goal builds the network into an even greater strategic national asset, taking advantage of state and local vantage points to analyze data and merge it into a national analytical system, adding both capacity and capability to federal efforts. No one in government knows more than state and local officials know about what is normal or abnormal in their cities and towns. That vantage point and information sharing ability make the National Network a national asset that must be available to federal partners as part of greater efforts to protect our nation. While federal partners have great capabilities and significant resources, they lack the intimate knowledge and understanding of the unique threats to every part of every community and the millions of public safety providers in over 87,000 jurisdictions. Therefore, federal partners must be included in and served by the NNFC.

The NNFC provides an essential capability required for national, homeland, and hometown security. This strategy will strengthen the National Network’s ability to tie the entire country together in a way that serves our nation as it protects our communities, bringing a trust-based, whole-of-community approach to information sharing that not only is unique but arguably cannot be done by the federal government alone. By implementing this stateand locally driven 2014–2017 National Strategy for the National Network of Fusion Centers, the NNFC will increase partnerships, fill capability gaps, build resilience, and encourage the robust cooperation and information sharing needed to realize its full potential as a partner in the national and homeland security enterprises.

Enhanced Analysis That Increases Value and Relevance of Products

One of the main steps in the fusion process is analysis. Analysis is a component of all fusion center activity and is therefore imperative to the mission and function of the National Network. As part of the analytic focus, fusion centers create analytic products for customers and partners, provide strategic analytic services for their jurisdictions, and develop analytic specializations among their analytic staff. Fusion center analytic efforts are wide-ranging and may focus on law enforcement support (both tactical and strategic), critical infrastructure support, analysis of SAR information, or specialized topic areas (counterterrorism, cybercrime, gangs, narcotics, homegrown violent extremism, etc.). In states with multiple fusion centers, it is imperative to coordinate and collaborate among centers to establish a statewide threat picture that accurately and comprehensively identifies and analyzes the threat environment within the state. This coordination enhances the value of analysis by each center and also minimizes both gaps in analytical products as well as redundancy of effort. In addition, fusion centers’ ability to provide enhanced analysis and facilitate coordination among fusion centers, as appropriate, allows centers to provide a tailored local context to the national threat picture, based on local and state vulnerabilities. This ability and the subsequent product development inform federal, as well as state and local, efforts, including recommendations to local community engagement efforts and protective measures. As the 2012 National Network of Fusion Centers Final Report indicates, one of the capabilities of the National Network is the ability to conduct analysis to help homeland security partners prevent, protect against, and respond to crime and terrorism. In 2012, the Fusion Center Assessment found that there are 984 analysts within the National Network who are involved in the production of 86,000 products. The ability of fusion centers to perform in-depth analysis, leveraging the critical-thinking skills of their analysis with the application of techniques from training opportunities provided by federal partners, is critical to the success of the National Network. This in-depth analysis demonstrates how the National Network operates to share information with state and local partners and provide additional context and meaning to the information by analyzing it from a state and/or local perspective.

There are numerous initiatives being undertaken within the National Network to show the depth and the extent of the National Network in engaging partners.

Example: Fusion Liaison Officer Programs

One proven method of engagement with state and local law enforcement and public safety agencies as well as private sector organizations is the Fusion Liaison Officer (FLO) program. A FLO program provides an effective opportunity for law enforcement and public safety agencies, as well as private sector partners, to engage with fusion centers, since FLOs serve as liaisons between their agency and the fusion center. FLOs help to facilitate their agency’s participation in regional information exchanges, ensuring that their respective agency is a full partner in the fusion center and information sharing processes. One value of the FLO program is that it may offer part of the solution to effectively support information sharing between fusion centers and local agencies, in coordination with other initiatives, such as the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative.

In addition, FLO programs are a valuable tool to support fusion centers in building their relationships with state and local law enforcement and multidisciplinary fusion center partners. By expanding fusion centers’ networks, FLO programs enable the National Network to grow stronger, broader, and deeper. The FLO program builds on two well-regarded models of successful law enforcement operations—community-oriented policing and intelligence-led policing—and enables fusion centers and participants to establish extensive information sharing opportunities. Through the FLO networks, the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques proactively addresses situations and conditions that may give rise to public safety issues and ensures that resulting information, intelligence, or relevant products inform decision making at both the tactical and strategic levels.

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