Letter: Terrorism intelligence key info for fusion centers

Regarding "Justice wants criminal intell systems to include terrorism info": The Justice Department is right on target with its suggestion to include terrorist-related intelligence within the criminal intelligence paradigm. As we have learned, local terror cells will fund their activities through criminal schemes.

Identity theft, credit card fraud, drug trafficking, and the sale of untaxed cigarettes provides robust levels of illicit dollars needed to support a cell's ability to move about at will while planning an attack.
New technology and processes has made it possible to tag data in such a way as to ensure that those people viewing secure information have the necessary security clearances.

The first step, which is presently being rolled out, is to sustain a uniform SAR (suspicious activity report) system that can be integrated with local criminal intelligence. Utilizing the $380M Fusion Center platform is a logical first step, but in view of Fusion Center information sharing failures noted in a recent Congressional report (1/18/2008, "Fusion Centers: Issues and Options for Congress"), the effort may never realize its true value. Much can be learned from local fusion center-like projects. In New York City, the NYPD's Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) is an example of how an organization 40,000+ strong can change the way they view information and their business: policing our streets.

In my view, federal projects overlook the importance of personnel involvement at the granular level. Except for federal agents working side-by-side with local law enforcement in the various JTTF units, federal views are more often lofty and from a distance. The RTCC employed a model where experience from real world working detectives was utilized to fashion investigative tools that have driven crime reduction and provided a model to countries and military branches throughout the world.

I feel privileged to have been a part of the RTCC as an analyst and a person whose experience was called upon to create custom data applications. In my current position as V.P. of the Data Vision Group's Public Safety Practice, I am always spreading the word about collaboration and sharing and the means to successfully and efficiently achieve it.

Fusing terror and criminal intelligence is not only logical, it's right for our country. When has looking at half a picture ever been better than seeing the whole picture? As long as we take steps to correct fusion center sharing issues, infusing terror intelligence will have an impact.

Gary A. Maio

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