Security Blog just received details of an important address by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano earlier this week that centered on the Department’s support for first responders to top law enforcement leaders from across the nation at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass.

“The men and woman of our state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies serve our country honorably every day,” said Secretary Napolitano. “The Department of Homeland Security is committed to doing everything we can to support these officers on the frontlines by providing the critical training and information they need to do their jobs to secure our nation from the threats we face.”

In her remarks, Secretary Napolitano emphasized the Department’s continued commitment to sharing timely, accurate information about evolving threats between the federal government and state, local and tribal law enforcement to protect against terrorism.

She also reiterated her commitment to deploy personnel to all 72 state and local fusion centers across the nation by the end of fiscal year 2010 to better coordinate and streamline the efforts of federal, state, local and tribal governments to detect, deter, prevent and respond to homeland security threats.

In addition, Secretary Napolitano highlighted the Department’s efforts to coordinate with law enforcement partners at the federal level to strengthen participation in Joint Terrorism Task Forces and emphasized the success of the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative pilot program, which trains law enforcement personnel nationwide to better identify and address emerging threats while protecting privacy and civil liberties.

Many states and larger cities have created state and local fusion centers to share information and intelligence within their jurisdictions as well as with the federal government. The Department, through the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, provides personnel with operational and intelligence skills to the fusion centers. This support is tailored to the unique needs of the locality and serves to:

·         help the classified and unclassified information flow,

·         provide expertise,

·         coordinate with local law enforcement and other agencies, and

·         provide local awareness and access.

As of July 2009, there were 72 designated fusion centers around the country with 36 field representatives deployed. The Department has provided more than $254 million from FY 2004-2007 to state and local governments to support the centers.

The Homeland Security Data Network (HSDN), which allows the federal government to move information and intelligence to the states at the Secret level, is deployed at 27 fusion centers. Through HSDN, fusion center staff can access the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a classified portal of the most current terrorism-related information.

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