The relationship between the two groups is said to be very good. It didn’t hurt that when James H. Davis left the Denver FBI Field Office where he was special-agent-in-charge, he took the executive director job at CDPS. The most frequent complaint from fusion centers historically was that information sharing only went one way: from them to the federal government.
There’s progress but still some tension. Another fusion center official who did not want to be named told Security Management recently that FBI personnel still carry a sense of superiority about them, much like an ivy leaguer looks down on someone who attended state college.
FBI agents acknowledge the difficulty in bridging the cultural gap. “Typically for me, a fusion center success story may be, I go home happy that Bill and Steve didn’t punch each other in that meeting,” FBI Supervisory Special Agent Matthew Drake, deputy director of the Northern Virginia Regional Intelligence Center, told a fusion center conference last year. That context makes it all the more remarkable that such tensions don’t exist at the CIAC.
Another element of the CIAC that helped build trust among all its partners was its strict adherence to analysis only. The CIAC does not investigate crimes, says Wolfinbarger. That’s left to the law enforcement agency with the appropriate jurisdiction. And when it comes to terrorism-related crimes, “The JTTF is the operational arm of the CIAC,” he explains.
As a result of that policy, neither the FBI nor state law enforcement worries about CIAC personnel coming into their jurisdiction and working independently. “There is no mission creep,” says Garcia. The CIAC’s only role is to collect, vet, analyze, and disseminate intelligence to its customers so that they have the clearest intelligence picture possible when potentially serious situations arise.
The CIAC didn’t only have to forge bonds of trust with law enforcement, it also had to convince Coloradans that it wasn’t a Big Brother organization established to spy on ordinary people. “We’re not a secretive cloak and dagger type of operation,” says Wolfinbarger.