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Why We Need Fusion Centers Now More Than Ever

By Michael Hartzler

Greater Cincinnati Fusion Center offers teachers training to fight potential threats

Michael Hartzler working at the Greater Cincinnati Fusion Center. Source: Local 12 News

The Birth of Fusion Centers

The attack on September 11, 2001 is widely considered one of the most horrific terrorist attacks on the United States (US). This event highlighted an important potential weakness in US law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Specifically, that not sharing information and intelligence has unconscionable consequences. Born out of 9/11, was a new program focusing on the sharing of information and intelligence across agencies. These were called Fusion Centers, which began to arise throughout the country with the mission of “preventing terrorist attacks.”

National Network of Fusion Centers

Today the National Network of Fusion Centers has grown to 79 intelligence centers throughout the US and its territories. The network, through maturation has allowed for unique partnerships with many federal, state, and local agencies. The Fusion Center network is recognized as a vital component of our nation’s intelligence capabilities from many organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The dedicated men and women in these centers work diligently to keep their communities as well as the nation safe and protected from harm.

Some have opined that Fusion Centers are no longer needed since the threat from International Terrorists on US soil is all but forgotten. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Furthermore, threats are ever changing today. Domestic Terrorism, Cyber Attacks, Transnational Crime, and Human Trafficking are just a few that threaten the well-being of our communities.

The Opiate Epidemic

The Opiate Epidemic is a prime example of the importance of intelligence sharing. For example, some Fusion Center analysts focus on monitoring, analyzing and disseminating information about the influx of Heroin and Fentanyl that comes across US borders to the broader intelligence community.

In summary, need for information and intelligence sharing is just as vital today as it was following 9/11. The fundamental mission of Fusion Centers is to facilitate the intelligence sharing not only amongst law enforcement, but the community. Each of us has a fundamental responsibility to keep this nation safe. We can all do our part by embracing Fusion Centers as they partner with the dedicated men and women who work every day to make the world a safer place.

Michael Hartzler is a veteran of the United States Coast Guard and a 39 year veteran of law enforcement. Mike’s last assignment was Director of the Greater Cincinnati Fusion Center where he was able to develop working relationships throughout the United States. He was an elected member of the Executive Board for the National Fusion Center Association


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