Ohio's Homeland Security Director said that there was no means for agencies to share information before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Since then, fusion centers were created between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs. They gather information from government sources and from partners in the private sector.
Ohio's fusion center is located inside the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, 10TV's Kevin Landers reported.
"There are individuals who do domestic terrorism here and they're looking for groups within Ohio and adjoining states," said Capt. Richard Baron, the executive director of Ohio Homeland Security.
There are 72 fusion centers in the U.S. Three of them are in Ohio.
Inside the fusion center in Columbus, 10 state employees, at a cost of nearly $800,000, have access to federal, state and local law enforcement databases.
"This is an information center, not an action center," Baron said. "We receive things and we send things out."
If experts connect the dots through tips and police intelligence, an alert is sent to nearly every law enforcement department in Ohio, Landers reported.
"We do have access to classified information from the government level, but we're not Big Brother," Baron said. "We don't have access to every camera that's in town."
Not everyone is so trusting of the government's power to access information. Matt Curtin, a forensic computer expert, said that the more power the government is given to protect citizens, the more freedom is given up.
"We've historically been a free society and liberty is what we held most dear and if we are now going to become afraid of everything and we want someone else to protect us then we're giving up a great deal of our history," Curtin said.
While the state touts fusion centers as a key to providing key warning signs of possible plots of terrorism, others see it as an intrusion of one's civil rights.
"If fusion centers seem to be the latest way to collect information with little oversight, little authority, that leaves all of us taxpayers and citizens and civil liberties supporters wondering what levels of the government are up to," Curtin said.
Baron said law abiding citizens have nothing to fear.
"Civil rights and civil liberties are very important to us," Baron said.
In an age where Americans are understandably in fear of another terrorist attack, groups like the American Civil Liberties Union argue that the government has become a much bigger snoop secretly monitoring our lives, and eroding liberties, all in the name of national security.
"I think Americans, unfortunately, have gotten used to -- over the years and decades --given up rights in the name of whatever it is fighting criminal fighting terrorism," Curtin said. "We need to remember that these rights belong to Americans."
When asked if he believes the fusion center can stop a terrorist attack, Captain Baron responded, “Yes, absolutely, no question.”
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