Twin Cities Fusion Center #3: CISA / MRIC / R-TAC – Big Brother Next Door
MINNEAPOLIS (NSP) – The proliferation of Fusion Centers across the United States has culminated in at least three such centers in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Funding for the buildings and operational budgets generally comes from Federal anti-terrorism grants.
Money for the Minneapolis Police Fusion Center money allocated for disaster relief assistance following the I35W Bridge collapse and was used to create the Emergency Operations Training Facility (EOTF). The EOTF now monitors a vast network of cameras, ShotSpotters (microphones) and snoops on social media using covert profiles (see policy 7-120).
Critics have argued that these intelligence sharing hubs (which unite Federal, State, Local and other groups to share crime and terrorism information) are unnecessary and even Orwellian.
More details will be provided on those details in later reporting. For now let’s take a look at some of the documents, systems and internal emails from CISA / MRIC to get a sense of operations.
From their own website, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office says:
“Criminal Information Sharing & Analysis Unit (CISA)
CISA provides timely analysis of criminal information to area law enforcement agencies. CISA provides a platform for agencies to share information about related crimes and provides crime pattern and trend analysis. Specialized software assists with predictive policing during crime sprees. This helps identify suspects more quickly and predicts where the next crime may occur. CISA has been recognized as a national model for its success as a criminal information sharing unit.
CISA has assisted with organizing several effective partnerships among law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system.
The collaborative groups are organized by geographic region and each has the same goal – to reduce violent crime. Each group meets frequently to collaborate about ways to reduce criminal activity, identify suspects who are active in several jurisdictions and prevent future crimes.
CISA organizes the information that is shared among the investigators, adds further analysis and redistributes the information back out to law enforcement agencies. Detectives in the participating agencies frequently credit the collaborations with solving cases faster and building stronger cases to present for prosecution.”
It’s important to note that the Fusion Center is issuing these subpoenas and receiving cellphone records, including location and other data, before a judge has even seen the request.
Social media intelligence (SOCMINT) has forced a reevaluation of what used to be considered norms prohibiting prosecution based on self-incrimination. In a world that’s ever more connected, society is struggling to determine boundaries between protected speech, public speech and similar tough issues when it comes to posts on social networks.
It’s been reported that somewhere around 90 percent of law enforcement agencies surveyed leverage social media. Approximately 86 percent use social media for criminal investigations and only 69 percent of agencies surveyed had a social media policy in place.
“1st amendment issues” with monitoring of protests “getting into the grey area” says an Intel Analyst at MN DPS. pic.twitter.com/Ja6Jw5Z6XK
— Tony Webster (@webster) June 30, 2016
National Security Special Events (NSSE), which major sporting events are often designated, absorb Federal, State and local resources. The numerous fusion centers around the United States serve as convenient staging areas for securing and surveilling these events. Other NSSEs include presidential campaign and similarly high profile events. These exercises serve as training events for police and military forces and the systems that are brought in to ensure their success remain in operation permanently after the NSSE finishes.
The linking together of facial recognition systems and Securonet (and perhaps other surveillance camera networks) in order to secure the coming Superbowl was discussed by Hennepin County. This is a perfect example of an NSSE that results in an advanced system that stays behind and becomes incorporated into normal police operations.
The FATPOT system, utilized by CISA, combines many other information networks and relays that information to the fusion center.