The New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center (ROIC) or "the Rock," as it is called by people who work there, is a fusion center, a new type of facility being created in states and major urban areas, often with federal grant assistance, to improve threat information sharing and coordination with federal authorities. Rich Kelly, who recently retired from a top position at the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI
) Newark Field Office, will head the ROIC and has experience in breaking down barriers to information sharing. "We are all on Team America," Kelly said during a recent interview in the 55,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art ROIC at state police headquarters in West Trenton. Team America describes the culture Kelly and his deputies want to create at the center, which houses local and federal law enforcement officials from various New Jersey state agencies; the Philadelphia Police Department; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS
); the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ
) Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF
); and the FBI. Although counterterrorism was once the primary rationale for creating fusion centers, most of them now accept responsibility for responding to all threats. Fusion centers play an increasingly prominent role in local law enforcement and are communication hubs for federal, state, and local authorities. At the ROIC, analysts from the agencies described above start each day by convening what officials call "the 10 a.m. huddle" in which they share current threat information from each of their organizations. Multiple databases from different agencies bring gigabytes of law enforcement and intelligence information into the fusion center. The daily meeting is crucial for connecting the dots and interpreting that data. Officials involved in the fusion center program say they obey state and federal criminal record-sharing laws and also aim to protect individuals' privacy and civil liberties through privacy policies that each fusion center has written or is in the process of completing soon.