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Intelligence centers evolve to fight terror in information age

By Greg Mellen, Behind The Badge

Alberto Martinez is the director of the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center (OCIAC), also often known as a fusion center. Formed in 2007, OCIAC was created to meet the need for information sharing among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and other public safety disciplines to fight terror and crime.

OCIAC works with partners throughout public safety awareness such as SafeOC and the Department of Homeland Security’s See Something Say Something campaign to heighten public awareness and participation in helping thwart terrorism, criminal activity and improve public safety.

In the wake of the September 11 terror attacks came the realization that vital clues that might have stopped the attacks had been missed, in part due to a lack of intelligence sharing. The National Network of Fusion Centers, each independently operated, was created to allow collaboration and ensure unfettered exchange of information and data. OCIAC grew out of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Terrorism Early Warning Group, which operated from 2001 to 2007.

The Orange County center is one of six in California and operates under the auspices of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, however it’s designated as a regional asset with staff representing Orange County municipal law enforcement and fire agencies including state and federal partners. There are currently about 80 fusion centers located in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since 2006, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI, and other federal, state and local agencies have deployed personnel to work within fusion centers.

With the 21st anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks looming, Behind the Badge recently spoke with Martinez about the changing nature of intelligence and terrorism.



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