Orange County fusion center works to prevent terror attacks

In a nondescript building in an undisclosed part of Orange County, a team of local, regional and federal law enforcement members work to identify and vet threats of violence and terrorism.

"Our job is to identify those things before they happen and prevent them from happening," said Orange County Sheriff's Department Lt. Chris Hays, the director of the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center.

OCIAC was formed in 2008, part of a federal initiative to enhance cohesion and communication between all levels of law enforcement.

The fusion center, as its called, brings together members from law enforcement, fire, health, the private sector and faith groups to help stop attacks before they happen.

"What's happening in the world, what's happening locally and how it's important these days to not only be welcoming but to be safe," said Kathleen Kooiman, the OCAIC's faith-based liaison.

The OCAIC helps provide training for security teams at places of worship and provides them with vital information.

The center has seen tip calls increase in the wake of the synagogue shooting in Poway and the thwarted terror plot targeting the port of Long Beach and Santa Monica pier.

Nearly every police department in the county works with OCIAC, sharing information and resources.

"Helping local law enforcement vet out information, they also help in establishing relationships," said Captain Jarrett Young from the Anaheim Police Department.

Recently, this team worked with Brea police to arrest and convict a man found with two homemade bombs in his car. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison.

"Do I know if he had a specific target? No," said Lt. Hays. "Do I know if he was ever going to blow anything up? No. The whole idea is for us to never get to that point."

OCIAC is one of 79 fusion centers nationwide. Orange County is the only county to have its own fusion center.

This team works around the clock to protect the community from acts of terror and other crimes.

"This is something all of us, of all faiths, we need to stand up and say we have to be untied in protecting one another," said Kooiman.
Law enforcement leaders of the fusion center say no matter how much work they do, the most important message for the community is "if you see something, say something."

You can report tips to the center here.
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