Funding OK’d for ‘fusion center’ with focus on terrorism

CARSON CITY — A state office designed to collect and share information about potential terrorism activities in Nevada won funding approval Tuesday for the three positions needed to get it operational.

The Board of Examiners, including Gov. Jim Gibbons, approved $344,000 in state funds for the analyst positions. The funding request, much less than the $651,000 set aside for the program by lawmakers, must now be approved by the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee.

Selby Marks, secure facility administrator for what state officials are calling a “fusion center,” said he expects the intelligence collecting facility to be up and operating sometime by next fiscal year if the funding request is approved by lawmakers later this month.

“I think that these are reasonable requests,” he said.

The request was lowered in part to recognize the state’s current budget problems, Marks said.

The center will collect and analyze information generated from the 15 rural counties and from Nevada’s Native American tribal governments. The information will be shared with two similar facilities being operated in Clark and Washoe counties, Marks said.

The fusion center proposal was a critical priority for Gibbons during the 2007 legislative session. But it ran into criticism from lawmakers who questioned whether it was needed and whether it had the support of the sheriffs of Clark and Washoe counties.

Marks said those questions have been answered and local law enforcement is supportive of the operation of the three different facilities, all of which will share and exchange the information they gather.

Marks, hired in October to oversee the creation of the center, said the startup is being phased in, which is why the full allocation from the general fund will not be needed in the current two-year budget.

In addition to the three analysts, the program will also employ a liaison officer who will work with the 15 rural counties and tribal governments. This position will be paid for with federal Homeland Security grant for three years, Marks said. The state will then have to pick up the cost of the position.

The Board of Examiners, which also includes Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller, voted unanimously for the funding request.

Marks said much of the work of the fusion center will be evaluating tips about suspicious activities generated by law enforcement and the public.

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