Our nation faces an evolving threat environment, in which threats emanate not only from outside our borders but also from within our communities. This new environment demonstrates the critical role state and major urban area fusion centers (fusion centers) have in supporting the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information between the federal government and state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT), and private sector partners.
Located in states and major urban areas throughout the country, fusion centers are uniquely situated to empower frontline law enforcement, public safety, fire service, emergency response, public health, and private sector security personnel to understand local implications of national intelligence, thus enabling local officials to better protect their communities. Fusion centers provide multidisciplinary expertise and situational awareness to inform decision making at all levels of government. They conduct analysis and facilitate information sharing while assisting law enforcement and homeland security partners in preventing, protecting against, and responding to crime and terrorism.
Fusion centers are owned and operated by state and local entities with support from federal partners in the form of deployed personnel, training, technical assistance, exercise support, security clearances, and connectivity to federal systems. Fusion centers provide the federal government with critical state and local information and subject-matter expertise that it did not receive in the past – enabling the effective communication of locally generated threat-related information to the federal government. Fusion centers receive information from a variety of sources, including suspicious activity reporting (SAR) information from stakeholders within their jurisdictions, as well as federal information and intelligence. They analyze the information and develop relevant products to disseminate to their customers. These products assist homeland security partners at all levels of government to identify and address immediate and emerging threats.
In 2010, fusion center directors, in partnership with the federal government, distilled the Baseline Capabilities for State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers into priorities, include four Critical Operational Capabilities:
Strengthening the ability of fusion centers to execute the Critical Operational Capabilities while ensuring privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties (P/CRCL) protections is critical to building an integrated National Network of Fusion Centers capable of providing resources, expertise, and information, with the goal of maximizing the nation’s ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity.
The Washington State Fusion Center (WSFC) operates consistent with the overall framework of the Statewide Integrated Intelligence System Plan, which includes the WSFC, nine Regional Intelligence Groups, Fusion Liaison Officers (FLOs) and private sector partners. The fusion center builds on the vision and guidance provided by the State of Washington, the SIIS, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) and multiple law enforcement, homeland security, public safety and private sector organizations. WSFC governance is vested in an Executive Board comprised of agencies and representatives participating in Public Safety and Homeland Security missions with authority to make policy, set strategic priorities and provide overall direction to the WSFC Director and staff.
The mission of the WSFC is to support the public safety and homeland security missions of federal, state, local, tribal agencies and private sector entities by:
A staff of commissioned law enforcement officers and professional intelligence analysts provide the experience and expertise necessary to drive the WSFC’s operational model of “intake, analyze, and disseminate.” Day to day activity carried out within the Situational Awareness and Watch Center (SAWC) includes:
The Washington State Fusion Center is organized into 4 main sections (Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources, Intelligence and Analysis, Urban Area Security Initiative Investigations and the Statewide Investigations). Each section is supervised by a commissioned sergeant assigned full time to the WSFC.