Federal information sharing is key to combating terrorism and cyber threats, according to law enforcement representatives from several states.
“During the 39 years of my career, I’ve watched threats evolve,” Chief Richard Beary, immediate past president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said at the House Homeland Security Committee’s Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee hearing on Sept. 8. “While we still deal with trafficking, prostitution, and gangs, we also face new challenges. Those challenges include terrorism, violent extremism, cyber threats, and highly organized criminals.”
In order to stay up to date on safety concerns, law enforcement officers said that communication between Federal agencies and local police departments needs to be accurate and fast. Beary said that police are acclimating to a new type of criminal.
Beary, who was appointed chief of police for the University of Central Florida in Orlando in 2007, stated that his agency was among the first to respond the June night that Omar Mateen killed 49 people in the Pulse nightclub.
He also recommended that the FBI add cyber reporting to its crime reporting list. He said that the cyber threat was a pressing issue and that cybersecurity measures need to be taken in order to prevent future shootings and protect incoming refugees.
“I still haven’t gotten over the fact that my hometown is the mass murder capital of the United States,” Beary said. “This Pulse incident highlights how one heavily armed individual can inflict numerous casualties with weapons purchased here in the U.S.”
Mike Sena, president of the National Fusion Center Association, said that fusion centers are key fixtures in communication between the Federal government and law enforcement agencies. Fusion centers are information sharing offices that act as a medium between Federal agencies and state and local entities. Many of them were set up by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Sena stated that these centers were important in providing service to people during the December 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting.
One solution for making communication between Federal and local agencies more efficient is condensing information and creating legislation that mandates cooperation between agencies, according to Sena.
Cedric Alexander, national president for the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), agreed, stating that more information sharing should be encouraged to identify useful data. Alexander also serves as the chief of police for DeKalb County, Ga.
“There is so much data and information available that investigators oftentimes find it difficult to identify that which is relevant and actionable intelligence,” Alexander said.