Up to 75 “fusion centers” may be created in which federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies exchange intelligence on terrorism, crime, and other “hazards,” says a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official. Robert Riegle, state and local program manger in the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, told a symposium Friday federal officials hope that states will take the lead in creating and operating the centers, with the help of aid from Washington. About 40 such centers have opened. Eventually they may be maintained by every state plus 20 to 25 in urban metropolitan areas.
The idea of joint intelligence-sharing centers could prove to be the “cheapest insurance policy in the history of the federal government,” Riegle said. He emphasized that they must be well managed: “We can’t let this get out of control–we can’t have 500 fusion centers.” Because the fusion centers are “grassroots” enterprises, they will not be operated under strict federal rules, Riegle said. Other speakers at the symposium, which was sponsored by the CNA Corporation in Alexandria, Va., were Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., Police Chief Darrel Stephens, Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Kerry Sleeper and Col. Bart Johnson, deputy superintendent of field command for the New York State Police.