Intel Sharing Without Walls
|The new Joint Regional Intelligence Center opened July 27. Officials in the foreground, left to right, are Willie Hulon, head of the FBI's National Security Branch, LAPD Chief William Bratton, J. Stephen Tidwell, head of the FBI's L.A. field office, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca.
It’s no secret that terrorists have plotted attacks in Los Angeles and Southern California. A terrorist plot to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport—the so-called Millennium Plot —was foiled in 1999. Last year, four extremists were charged with plotting to commit terror attacks on U.S. military recruitment centers and synagogues in L.A.
In the recent case, the break came when local police learned of the plot during their investigation of gas station robberies. They shared the information with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which shut down the plot.
That coordination went a step further in July when the FBI joined the Los Angeles police and sheriff’s departments to open the largest-in-the-nation Joint Regional Intelligence Center.
The JRIC, as it is called, will be staffed with intelligence analysts and investigators from the spectrum of federal, state, and local law enforcement and security agencies that cover the 44,000-square mile territory surrounding L.A. The intent is to improve coordination and intelligence sharing by putting all the important players together—not on a conference call or in a warren of cloistered cubicles, but in an airy bullpen that encourages back-and-forth exchanges.
“We took all of our early warning systems, our trip wires, our looking-out-over-the-horizon stuff, and put it all in this one building,” said J. Stephen Tidwell, assistant director in charge of our Los Angeles field office. “This is inter-agency communication on steroids.”
Some 30 analysts and investigators are already in place, a number that’s expected to double in the near future. The hub model will help eliminate duplication, speed information flow and make it easier to identify patterns and trends in terrorism and other threats—critical in a region that spans seven counties and 18 million people.
“We will all benefit from collective analyses done here and from the ability to quickly share that information,” said LAPD Chief William J. Bratton.
There are more than 40 regional intelligence centers in the U.S. And fusion centers, partnerships between state and local authorities focused on particular crimes or issues, are spread across the country. What makes the new center the unique is the unprecedented representation in one place by some 200 different agencies.
The FBI’s contribution to the JRIC will be largely through its existing field intelligence groups, which are teams of special agents and analysts who are expert in intelligence, finance and languages. Posted at the JRIC, they will be able to assimilate information and trends and apply them to investigations. Meanwhile, other agencies will benefit from our resources and investigations.
“By bringing the resources that each agency has together under one roof, we give each other greater capabilities,” said Willie T. Hulon, executive assistant director of our National Security Branch, at the July 27 launch. “We will all benefit, especially the citizens we are sworn to protect.”
Resources: Counterterrorism Stories | FBI Counterterrorism Division | Los Angeles Field Office