State and major urban area fusion centers (fusion centers) and the Regional Information Sharing System (RISS) Program play unique yet equally critical roles in securing the homeland. Fusion centers are owned and operated by state and local entities and are intended to empower front-line law enforcement, public safety, fire service, emergency response, public health, and private sector security personnel through the lawful gathering, analysis and sharing of threat-related information. RISS is a congressionally funded program that is governed by state and local law enforcement agencies through RISS Center policy boards.
RISS is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, which provides funding oversight and program management for the RISS Program. RISS consists of 6 RISS centers and a RISS Technology Support Center. The RISS centers focus on organized and violent criminal matters and provide support services across three major areas: secure information and intelligence sharing, officer safety and deconfliction services, and investigative and case support. These services are intended to enhance and improve law enforcement’s ability to detect, apprehend, and successfully prosecute criminals.
Overview of Fusion Centers
As described in the National Strategy for Information Sharing, fusion centers serve as focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information among federal and state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) partners. They produce actionable intelligence for dissemination, but do not generally participate in investigations.
Owned and operated by state and local entities, fusion centers serve the specific needs of their jurisdictions while supporting the broader national security enterprise. Fusion centers overlay national intelligence with local, state, and regional information, enhancing understanding of the threat environment across all levels of government. They augment the federal government’s analytic capability and enhance situational awareness in order to protect the nation.
Fusion centers leverage trusted relationships within the SLTT environment to assist law enforcement and homeland security partners in preventing, protecting against, and responding to crime and terrorism. They support the implementation of risk-based, information-driven prevention, response, and consequence management programs within their respective communities. Further, fusion centers across the nation form a National Network bridging jurisdictional boundaries to provide effective communication channels and collaborative opportunities.
Overview of RISS Centers
There are six RISS centers that focus on organized and violent criminal matters and provide support services to federal and SLTT criminal justice and public safety agencies in three major areas: secure information and intelligence sharing, officer safety and deconfliction services, and investigative and case support. The RISS centers facilitate access to a variety of investigative support services that enhance and improve law enforcement’s ability to detect, apprehend, and successfully prosecute criminals. These services include analytical, investigative support and research, equipment loans, confidential funds, training and publications development, field services support, and technical assistance.
The RISS centers also facilitate access to a variety of technology based tools and databases accessible via the RISS Secure Cloud (RISSNET). RISSNET provides access to millions of pieces of data, offers bidirectional sharing of information, connects disparate systems, and acts as the secure infrastructure for a number of critical resources and investigative tools. More than 85 systems are connected or pending connection to RISSNET and more than 350 resources are available to authorized users. RISS has developed information sharing resources available via RISSNET, including the RISS Criminal Intelligence Databases (RISSIntel), which provides for real-time, online federated search of RISS and more than 35 partner intelligence databases. RISS developed and operates the RISS Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System (RISSafe), the RISS Officer Safety Website. RISSafe stores and maintains data on planned law enforcement events—such as raids, undercover operations, and surveillances—and identifies and alerts affected agencies and officers of potential conflicts impacting law enforcement efforts. Other resources include the RISS National Gang Program (RISSGang), the RISS Automated Trusted Information Exchange (ATIX), the RISSLeads Investigative website, and secure hosted partner sites. Fusion centers can query these databases, retrieve information from investigative systems, solicit assistance from research staff, and use analytical staff to help inform their efforts.
RISS centers are located in the following regions:
- Middle Atlantic-Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network (MAGLOCLEN)
- Mid-States Organized Crime Information Center (MOCIC)
- New England State Police Information Network (NESPIN)
- Rocky Mountain Information Network (RMIN)
- Regional Organized Crime Information Center (ROCIC)
- Western States Information Network (WSIN)
Owned and operated by state and local authorities.
The RISS Program is congressionally funded and administered by the Department of Justice. The RISS Centers are managed and governed locally by six regional law enforcement policy boards.
Deal with terrorism, criminal, and public safety matters across multiple disciplines, including law enforcement, public safety, fire service, emergency response, public health, and private sector security.
Focus on criminal matters, including organized crime, violent crime, gang activity, drug activity, human trafficking, identity theft, and other regional priorities.
Receive, analyze, disseminate, and gather threat-related information.
Provides secure information and criminal intelligence sharing capabilities, and subject and event deconfliction to enhance officer safety nationwide.
Produce actionable intelligence for dissemination to appropriate law enforcement and homeland security agencies.
Provides analytical and investigative support services to federal and SLTT law enforcement to assist in the detection, apprehension, and prosecution of criminals.
Collaborative Efforts of Fusion Centers and RISS Centers
Both fusion centers and RISS centers are responsible for protecting our nation by serving as valuable conduits for information sharing among federal, state, local and tribal agencies. Their missions are not isolated; to the contrary, criminal, homeland security, and counterterrorism efforts address specific threats that impact the safety and security of our local communities. There is a clear link between traditional criminal activity and a variety of homeland security issues, including terrorism. In many cases, these local crimes are precursors to or provide financial support for other criminal or terrorism-related activities. As such, the missions of fusion centers, RISS centers, and HIDTAs are complementary and require on-going coordination. Knowledge, expertise, relationships, and information held by RISS centers is invaluable to assist fusion center partners in identifying and analyzing homeland security threats. By working collaboratively, both entities can ensure patterns and trends associated with criminal and/or terrorism-related activities are more readily identified, thus creating safer communities and a more secure nation.