Library and internet research-fusion centers as a law enforcement tool
Fusion Center’s as a Law Enforcement Tool
Fusion centers should not be used as a local law enforcement agency. This defies the initial role it was put in place to play and meant to act. According to Homeland Security’s website describes their role as, a fusion center operates as state and major urban area focal point for the receipt, analysis, gathering and sharing of threat related information between federal, state, local, tribal territorial and private sector partners (Homeland Security, 2018). From the roles described above by Homeland security website, it is not the role of these fusion centers to enforce law locally, it only has the mandate to gather information concerning homeland security and imminent attacks on American soil.
A fusion center brings critical context and value to homeland security and law enforcement in a way no other federal organization can act. They achieve this through: providing unique information, having a unique perspective and by having a unique role. A law enforcement body that should apply locally should be the state police and sheriffs as appropriate. To deal with external attacks these fusion centers should only collect data and not enforce laws. By enforcing laws they can be able to arrest, detain and charge any individual with any crime whether terrorism related or not. It is seen by the society as extra pressure owing to the presence of the state police department and the sheriff. This will create fear among the citizens and with this fear in the people; the crime rates would be encouraged. Terrorists will find it easy to thrive in such an environment because of created attention. This will make the whole pint of setting them up a zero sum game.
The use of these centers may violate the rights of individuals; this is in terms of privacy and information sharing. There is the question of whether data from these centers can be used appropriately to prevent terrorism? Whether funding these centers with tax payers’ money is a good way of investing public resources? It is keen to note that not all the 40 fusion centers in the country are alike hence generalized statements cannot be made concerning their operations. Not all fusion centers engage in improper intelligence activities and not all of them have their operations raising civil liberties or privacy concerns. The lack of a legal framework to regulate the fusion center’s activities is becoming troublesome.
The potential problems they provide to citizens include: the participation of several agencies with different jurisdictions may allow the authorities to manipulate differences in federal, state and local laws to maximize information collection while evading accountability and the act of oversight. All meant in the name of policy shopping. The incorporation of private sectors may also be seen as a threat to rights of individuals. This breaks down the arms length relationship that is responsible for the privacy of citizens.
Data breaches may occur on companies. This is of threat to the right to privacy which is very crucial. The involvement of military personnel in law enforcement by these agencies is worrying. This may bring about issues that border freedom of expression and right to life as well as right to fair trials. Data mining by this agency is also a breach of the right to privacy. The centers also operate in excessive secrecy, this limits public oversight, makes it hard to acquire essential information and brings their overall value into doubt (ACLU, 2019).
The co-operations that happens between fusion centers and other government agencies are secretive and do not involve public participation. Fusion centers’ differs from other government agencies in terms of joint operations in the essence of secrecy and value of data taken. While, other organizations may be open about operations and may involve the input of the public, fusion centers’ cooperation may be a surprise on the target and not necessarily be confirmed. The fusion centers operations are different from other security agencies. The operations of the fusion center’s are not put through public scrutiny and can be abused by those in power or powerful leaders for self benefit. These centers can therefore be abused and manipulated unlike the state police department which ideally should be transparent and have public participation.
According to Homeland Security (2018) in order for transparency and public participation to be included in the fusion centers, these centers must accept and allow it. The data generated should have a procedure that is known publicly how and for what reason it is being used. This type of transparency would make the public develop confidence in the institution. This would mean that information from the public concerning terrorism or threats of such may be reported in due time to the institution, this would be of great benefit to America as a whole. In terms of data breaches, the institution should make known to the public the type of information they want and ask voluntarily for people or companies who would not mind sharing their data. This will also reduce data breach cases.
The fusion center should not only work with other law enforcement bodies but also consider other public institution such as the various schools and institutes of higher learning, hospitals and churches, the media and even business persons. This will create a web of trust among the key stakeholders in the society. This would help in accessing information that may be used to conduct a terrorist attack on American soil. As already discussed above, fusion centers are best for intelligence gathering, analyzing as well as dissemination of other urban centers including the state. Many of these fusion centers were created by the state and homeland security centers as information sharing centers between various agencies.
In conclusion, the idea of fusion centers in my opinion was a good thing done by the Department of Homeland Security. However, its implementation has had issues and is responsible for the problems that are currently surrounding it not mentioning the controversies. Public participation would be the number one strategy on their agenda. Since they may depend on the public for information their relations with the public ought to be good.