(Photo: Emily Schneider)
By: Natalia Zreliak, Digital Editor
Regis University and the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab, also known as CELL, presented Security in Colorado: Addressing Today’s Threats & Challenges yesterday in the Mountain View Room in Claver. The keynote speaker was JP Burt the Director of the Colorado Information Analysis Center, CIAC, which is a division of Homeland Security. Captain Burt is also the Commander of the Colorado State Patrol Homeland Security Section and oversees the Colorado State Patrol Intelligence Unit and the Auto Theft Intelligence Coordination Center. As an eleven year veteran of the Colorado State Patrol Burt had much to offer on the topic at hand, the role of fusion centers and the collaboration efforts across multiple agencies to secure our communities.
Fusion centers are a collaborative effort where federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners share expertise and knowledge of threat-related information. “Located in states and major urban areas throughout the country, fusion centers are uniquely situated to help empower front-line law enforcement, public safety, fire service, emergency response, public health, critical infrastructure protection, and private sector security personnel to lawfully gather and share threat-related information,” according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The CIAC is one of 79 fusion centers across the nation that was born out of the need to improve national information sharing after 9/11. It is staffed by 72 individuals from 21 different agencies varying from the federal to state and local level. CIAC’s mission is to collect all threat-related information for Colorado and to properly distribute that information through bulletins. Another way that CIAC gets information out is through community events like the one held at Regis.
One of the biggest takeaways that Burt offered was for citizens to be unafraid to report something. It is often citizens that know when something is amiss in the spots that we frequent every day like work, school, or the grocery store. “There’s an inherent fear when someone is up to something out of the ordinary that by reporting them it’s going to get someone in trouble or get you labeled as someone who wears tinfoil on their head, but it’s our job to filter that and if you don’t say something then we can’t see it and act upon it,” Burt said.
But it is also important to remember that these actions are rooted in behavior not appearance as Hollywood or social prejudice may have led us to believe. “There is no quantifiable data that attributes how someone looks to committing a crime, it’s based on behavior,” Burt said, “Prevention is rooted in proactivity, it’s also the toughest nut to crack but the reality is that through a strategic level of analysis that we can do that.”
One of the greatest challenges to global security today is the threat of terrorism and the mission of CELL is to educate, empower, and engage communities in order to prevent criminal and terrorist activity. Whether you consider yourself left, right, or centrist this is a call to action that can’t be ignored.
If you would like to learn more about CELL please visit TheCell.org, you can also visit The CELL Exhibit on the southeast corner of the Denver Civic Center Cultural Complex, directly across from the Denver Art Museum.