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Back to Archives | Back to November 2010 Contents 

Educational Programs for Fusion Center Directors

Brian Seals, Public Affairs Writer, Center for Homeland Defense Security

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o mature and strengthen the management capabilities of fusion center leaders through academic homeland security coursework, the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) provides an executive-level educational program for fusion center directors.

About 20 intelligence professionals across all levels of government participate in each session, each of which addresses the critical questions facing state and major urban area fusion center leaders and their roles in homeland security.

The CHDS offers a master’s degree for homeland security. The Fusion Centers Leaders Program (FCLP) is a nondegree program offered at CHDS. Students receive a professional certificate of completion for FCLP. The program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was developed based on input from interagency partners, including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and state and local partners through the Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council and National Fusion Center Association.

DHS, in coordination with its interagency partners, supported the development of the program to enhance the management capabilities across the national network of fusion centers and enable best practices in information sharing and leadership to be shared among the fusion center directors. The program represents ongoing DHS initiatives to support achieving the baseline capabilities for state and major urban area fusion centers. By achieving this baseline level of capability, a fusion center will have the necessary structures, processes, and tools in place to support the gathering, processing, analysis, and dissemination of terrorism, homeland security, and law enforcement information.

The sessions highlight fusion center critical operational capabilities, including the ability to

  1. receive classified and unclassified information from federal partners;
  2. assess local implications of threat information through the use of a formal risk assessment process;
  3. disseminate threat information to other state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector entities within their
    jurisdictions; and
  4. gather locally generated information, aggregate it, analyze it, and share it with federal partners.

Throughout the program, participants have the opportunity to discuss, debate, and engage in dialogue about these pivotal issues as well as other fusion center management challenges. Recognizing that fusion centers are owned and operated by state and local partners, the program also focuses on building standard capability and enhancing management capacities to enable fusion centers to operate at an enhanced level of capacity. The program is not a standard training course, but rather an executive-level educational program that presents learning objectives pertaining to intelligence, fusion centers, and operating a complex organization.

“Since 9/11,” said John Miller, ODNI Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analytic Transformation and Technology, “the threat has shifted from one driven by al-Qaida to a more decentralized movement that capitalizes on globalization and the Internet to lure recruits from U.S. soil to commit violent acts.” He pointed to the foiled Times Square bombing in May 2010 and to a plot to build bombs hatched in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, last fall among examples of where planning was conducted far from big-city targets. He added,

These kinds of domestically executed attacks heighten the importance of the work fusion centers do. We have been very effective in terms of our strategy in crushing the organizational structure of al-Qaida and in keeping its leadership on the run. The unintended consequence of that is the use of modern communications to generate mass appeals, which may result in only a few people coming forward who embrace the terrorist ideology, but a few people are all it takes. When you look at the plots, the plotters, the planning, and even the building of the bombs in some cases, it hasn’t happened in New York or Washington, D.C. It has happened in small towns outside of Denver; it has happened in small towns in Connecticut and rural parts of Illinois. Just because the biggest targets might not be in your area of operation, that doesn’t mean the threat might not be lurking there, even if the target is somewhere else.

Please cite as:

Brian Seals, "Educational Programs for Fusion Center Directors," The Police Chief 77 (November 2010): 68–70, (insert access date).



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXVII, no. 11, November 2010. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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