The search for a missing Grinnell College student this week drew many volunteers but also professionals from the public-safety agencies. One of them is known as FUSION, and spokesman Jim Saunders says the joint program’s a way for Homeland Security and state Emergency Management to pitch in together.
Saunders says it’s intended to provide a mechanism for law-enforcement agencies to communicate and share information with private entities like insurance companies and others that might help ensure the safety of Iowans. It was designed to deal with terrorism issues, but because of the resources that come together and the kind of things Iowans can face on a daily basis, it’s used as a “force multiplier” — just an additional resource to let law enforcement be in touch with other law agencies and entities about public-safety issues.
The Division of Criminal Investigation joined this case, as did city police and Grinnell College, which has its own campus security. Saunders says there’s always been pretty good cooperation between the agencies. The Iowa Law Enforcement Intelligence Network started here in 1984, and he says the state’s been a leader, with good lines of communication between law enforcement and other government areas like the public-health department, homeland security, emergency-management, the department of education and others.
Saunders says there are half-a-dozen regional FUSIONS centers in the state. The FUSION program establishes communication protocols and other ground rules that help them all work together efficiently when they swing into action.