Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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Community forum poses questions about Fusion Center

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TWC News: Community forum poses questions about Fusion Center
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About 50 people attended a public forum Tuesday to hear the Austin Police Department talk about the Austin Regional Intelligence Center, otherwise known as the Fusion Center.

APD officials held the forum to let people know how the Austin Regional Intelligence Center will and will not work.

"It isn't a spy agency. It isn't someone coming here to meddle in business of American citizens,” APD Police Chief, Art Acevedo, said.

According to department officials, sharing information with neighboring jurisdictions as well as state and federal agencies ensures that crime history and other information is shared outside the city limits.

The department said it the center will be one that "analyzes information in order to best detect, respond and hopefully prevent criminal and terrorist activity -- as well as other public safety hazards."

Concerned citizen, Gus Gonzales, asked police how he would know his personal information wasn’t being mishandled.

"How will we, the public, know how well it's working? What I would not like to see is, mismanagement or any kind of issues buried behind exemption from public disclosure," he said.

Officials said the Fusion Center will follow all laws related to law enforcement intelligence.

But that still left some questioning how they could be assured they wouldn't be profiled based on political beliefs, economic status or other discriminating factors.

"I fit like three descriptions. Do you see the danger of what millions of us are afraid of?" concerned citizen, Paul Davis, said.

According to Acevedo, individual views are not the focus.

"I'm not interested in you. I could care less about your political views. This is a democracy," he said.

Acevedo said, the only focus of the center is criminals.

“We’re interested in people engaged in crime – period,” he said.

The Fusion Center and its privacy policy are still in the process of being developed.

It could open as soon as this spring.

The Austin Police Department is still working on launching a site that will provide more information about the center.

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