A crew of teenage car arsonists is busted in the act; a murder suspect is caught before he reaches the Mexican border; a violent string of ATM thefts is quashed. In each case, says the Dallas Morning News, detectives in the Dallas Police Department’s intelligence-gathering and analysis unit, known as the Fusion Center, played a critical role by quickly analyzing and disseminating information to officers in the field.
Police Chief David Kunkle, who championed the unit’s formation in 2007, refers to it as the “brains” of a department that reported a 10 percent drop in crime last year and a nearly 19 percent decline in the first quarter of this year. “There is a lot of truth in [the philosophy] if every cop knew what every other cop knew, there’d be no crime,” he said. The Dallas center is one of 70 federally funded fusion centers across the U.S.; each varies in its mission. Such intelligence gathering operations gained unprecedented federal support after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The idea was to improve the swift analysis and sharing of intelligence within and between law enforcement agencies to identify potential terror threats. In Dallas’ case, and in other cities, fusion center duties have broadened into day-to-day crime fighting.