A look inside the Austin-based Fusion Center

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by NOELLE NEWTON and JESSICA VESS / KVUE News

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kvue.com

Posted on October 21, 2010 at 6:15 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 21 at 6:15 PM

Agencies across the state are working together to fight crime. The Texas Department of Public Safety held a dedication Thursday morning for what is known as a Fusion Center.
 
The center sits inside a building at the DPS headquarters complex in North Austin.
 
DPS allowed media inside for a rare look at how the agencies work together to solve crimes. Large screens and rows of computers fill one room after another at the center. Each room is dedicated to a type of intelligence gathering including border security and gang activity.
 
The purpose of a fusion center is to create a central location where local, state, and federal agencies can work together to share the information they have gathered about different crimes or threats, in particular terror threats or trends in organized crime.
 
“This is a great day for the State of Texas. It's going to make us safer," said Congressman Michael McCaul, R-Texas. "Fusion centers, sharing information, sharing intelligence is what is going to detect, deter and prevent a future terrorist attack.”
 
McCaul is one of the heads of the Homeland Security Committee. He visited the Fusion Center on Thursday for its dedication. It is one of about 70 in the nation.
 
The center has actually been under development for about a year now. The dedication marks the official launch joining multiple state and local agencies.
 
A majority of the group was working during the recent shooting on the University of Texas campus, as well as during the suicide plane crash into the Echelon building earlier this year.
 
The Austin Police Department is part of the group working at the center. APD secured city approval in May to create a center within the complex to coincide with the fusion facility.
 
Money to fund the center comes from Homeland Security Grants.

Several rights groups have expressed concerns regarding a possible over-sharing of information. APD officials say they will allow watch groups certain access to oversee any potential concerns.

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