The Role of the Private Sector in Fusion Centers
The inadequacies and shortfalls in information sharing were pointed out by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States or more commonly known as the 9/11 Commission. In Chapter 13 of the 9/11 Commission Report, “How To Do It? A Different Way of Organizing the Government”, the report produced recommendations to guide the government away from processes that don’t protect the nation against terrorism threats. Numerous recommendations were documented in the report of which two were directed toward information sharing. The first recommendation stated, “Information procedures should provide incentives for sharing, to restore a better balance between security and shared knowledge”. What better incentive for businesses and organizations than to be an active and valuable partner in the fight against terrorism through information sharing and the protection of the critical infrastructure of the United States? The private sector has unique knowledge of processes and systems that could greatly aid the law enforcement community through effective use of fusion centers. Terrorism is not a law enforcement problem alone and the most effective strategy against this threat is a partnership between the public and private sectors.
• Ability to access terrorism related training offered by fusion centers
• Ability to receive terrorism-related information, such as advisories, public safety bulletins and threat assessments
• Development of a trusted relationship between public and private sectors
• Improved understanding of suspicious activities associated with terrorist activities
• Receiving periodic updates of on-going terrorist/criminal trends
• Informing better decision making and increasing situational awareness for incident response
• Contributions to a wider and deeper information sharing network
• Increasing knowledge and skills for identifying suspicious activity
• Energizing businesses and organizations to develop current and comprehensive emergency response plans
An excellent example of a law enforcement fusion center is the Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center (SNCTC) located in Las Vegas, NV. The SNCTC is one of three fusion centers in the State of Nevada that takes terrorism and information sharing seriously. They understand information sharing is a power tool and realize blending data from different sources, including law enforcement, public safety, and the private sector, with analysis, can result in meaningful and actionable intelligence and information that goes a long way in protecting a community against acts of terrorism. Fusion centers provide the mechanism for private sector participation in the information sharing process. The private sector’s role with the fusion center is not only that of a concerned citizen of the community, but also as a valuable partner based on trust, cooperation and participation.