It is hard to disagree that there are many dangerous situations that ordinary people have to face and deal with every day. Typically, they can be divided into those caused by nature and those planned and performed by humans. The first group includes fires, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and many other natural disasters. As for the second group, for example, terrorist and any armed attacks are included in it. These two types are united by three main factors: these threats happen suddenly, pose a considerable danger to people, and should be addressed and eliminated immediately. However, this is rather challenging and requires many skills and resources united together. That is why there are certain associations created to make the process of saving people easier, better, and faster. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the Department of Homeland Security, Fusion Centers, and Joint Terrorism Task Forces, as well as their objectives and necessity.
The Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security is the U.S. federal government’s cabinet department that was established in November 2002. Its work aims at improving the safety of the United States and its citizens. The purposes of the Department include immigration, border, and customs enforcement, cybersecurity, antiterrorism work, and emergency response to human-made and natural disasters (“U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” n.d.). In the framework of a joint project with the Office of Justice Programs of the U.S. Department of Justice, the DHS created a number of fusion centers.
Fusion Centers are unique focal points that are operated and owned by the federal, local, and state governments. It is a shared commitment between these authorities, and such centers are located in major urban areas and states (Carter et al., 2017). They serve for the sharing, gathering, analysis, and receipt of information that is related to the threat. It is performed between private and federal, State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial sector partners (Carter et al., 2017). Fusion centers were set up in 2001 by DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, as a result of increasing terrorist attacks (Carter et al., 2017). The National Network is made up of all American fusion centers and is represented by the NFCA – the National Fusion Center Association. The NFCA is headed by an Executive Board, which consists of a secretary, president and vice president, treasurer, and executive director. In addition, two regional co-chairs representing these centers from the country’s West, Central, South East, and North East regions are included in the board.
The Fusion Centers’ Approaches
The fusion centers are aimed at improving law enforcement agencies’ awareness and intelligence surveillance. Their missions may differ depending on the environment in which a particular center operates (Carter et al., 2017). Therefore, a number of them have adopted an “all-hazards” approach, while others include an “all-crimes” one. Any types of strategies are encouraged and supported, and the fact the mission of a fusion center has to be defined based on jurisdictional needs is respected.
The Fusion Centers’ Necessity
The appearance of such centers may seem unnecessary because not everyone understands how they work and what goals they have and accomplish. Moreover, there is an opinion that their legality and effectiveness may be and have been questioned (Carter et al., 2017). That is why it is of vital importance to discuss why these centers are necessary and crucial for the safety of America and its citizens. To begin with, Homeland Security and Law Enforcement receive unique value and context from the National Network of Fusion Centers (Carter et al., 2017). Its contribution is priceless and cannot be replicated by any other local or federal organization. The irreplaceability of Fusion Centers is accomplished through various actions they perform. The list includes providing partners with a particular view of threats to their locality or state and exchanging information (Carter et al., 2017). In addition, Fusion Centers are the main channel of communication between advanced personnel, local and state leaders, and the rest of Homeland Security Enterprise’s members.
The Fusion Centers’ Success
There are a significant number of stories that prove the effectiveness and necessity of fusion centers. For instance, in 2017, Hurricane Irma hit the Virgin Islands (Suiters, 2017). Due to the damage it caused, Ed and Mary-France Smith, a couple from Falls Church, Virginia, were trapped in their home. They had no electricity, no chances to escape the island, and almost ran out of the water (Suiters, 2017). Their daughter asked the Red Cross, the Department of Defense, FEMA, and members of Congress for help but was told that there were no available resources.
The whole family was in a panic, and Ed and Mary-France’s daughter realized that there is nothing she can do to save her parents. However, after six days, Glenn Archer, executive director of the National Fusion Center Association, was alerted of the accident (Suiters, 2017). He contacted the Fusion Center in the Virgin Islands, scoured satellite photos, pinned down GPS coordinates, and deployed an FBI SWAT team to the location of the family (Suiters, 2017). The couple returned to Virginia, and it is possible to say that the work of Glenn Archer and his fusion center was brilliant and necessary. Moreover, this situation proves that some actions may be performed only by the members of such centers, and their presence is crucial.
Joint Terrorism Task Forces
Joint Terrorism Task Forces that belong to the FBI may be considered the U.S. nation’s front line of defense against domestic and international terrorism. The very first JTTF was created in 1980 in New York City, and nowadays, there are about two hundred task forces in the United States (“Joint Terrorism Task Forces,” n.d.). These organizations are unique groups of passionately committed, locally-based, and highly trained linguists, analysts, investigators, and many other specialists who belong to various American intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Joint Terrorism Task Forces’ Purposes and Necessity
Joint Terrorism Task Forces are extremely necessary when it comes to investigating terrorism. Their actions include collecting and sharing intelligence, providing security for special events, chasing down leads, making arrests, gathering evidence, and responding to incidents and threats at a moment’s notice (“Joint Terrorism Task Forces,” n.d.). Among the goals mentioned above, JTTFs are responsible for serving as a considerable national resource and creating familiarity among managers and investigators prior to the appearance of any crisis (Mayer, 2016). This task is accomplished by conducting various types of meetings and training that help to improve the specialized skills of crisis response teams, analysts, and investigators (“Joint Terrorism Task Forces,” n.d.). Besides, Joint Terrorism Task Forces gather knowledge, skills, and talents from all the law enforcement and intelligence communities and unite them into a special team that can respond together. These measures make all agencies more powerful, reliable, trustworthy, and skilled.
Fire Marshals and the List of Approved Members
When looking through the list of approved members of Joint Terrorism Task Forces, it becomes evident that fire marshals are absent from it. However, in some states, during a disaster, a vetted fire marshal is allowed to become the Initial Incident Commander – a person who takes a command position. Hence, it is vital to understand whether they should be on the JTTF list or not. According to Dowdell (2018), the primary mission of fire service “goes beyond fire prevention/suppression and EMS response to include the prevention, detection, planning, mitigation and recovery from terrorist attacks” (para. 4). Therefore, fire service is an essential piece in the whole puzzle of homeland-security, and excluding it may be a mistake. Dowdell (2018) notices that “one of the advantages of having fire-service members on the JTTF is that it provides executive leadership with real-time information as it pertains to threats specific to one’s area of responsibility or jurisdiction” (para. 12). Thereby, it is evident that fire marshals being on the JTTF list is necessary.
To draw a conclusion, one may say that having associations like the JTTF, DHS, and Fusion Centers play a significant role in the lives and safety of a considerable number of people. During any kind of disaster, gathering information and reacting promptly, alerting all necessary organizations, splitting responsibilities, exchanging relevant details, and finally eliminating the threat with the least loss are not easy but rather essential tasks. Fortunately, these associations usually manage to perform them quite successfully.
Carter, J. G., Carter, D. L., Chermak, S., & McGarrell, E. (2017). Law enforcement fusion centers: Cultivating an information sharing environment while safeguarding privacy. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 32(1), 11-27.
Dowdell, C. (2018). The American Fire Service and the FBI-Joint Terrorism Task Force. The International Association of Fire Chiefs. Web.
Joint Terrorism Task Forces. (n.d.). FBI. 2020, Web.
Mayer, M. A. (2016). Consolidate domestic intelligence entities under the FBI. AEI Paper & Studies.
Suiters, K. (2017). Va. couple stranded on St. John by Hurricane Irma surprised, rescued after 7 days. WJLA. Web.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (n.d.). USA Gov. 2020, Web.