Alabama Fusion Center Opens

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A memorable day for Lt. Bill Eller when he found out he would become the state's first commander of the Alabama Fusion Center. Here's what he told his wife.

"I said 'honey, I got reassigned and she said where?' I said Commander of the Alabama Fusion Center. She said 'what's that?' I said 'I don't know," Eller said.

Laughter aside it's now become a serious job for Eller with serious responsibilities. Headquartered in the new RSA building in Montgomery, the concept of the Fusion Center is one of sharing critical information with law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

"If we think back to 9-11, it was shown very early on that law enforcement did not share information from the Fed level to the local level and vice versa," said Eller.

Eller says ego played a part in that but adds the walls are coming down. Part of the Alabama Fusion Center's role is to somehow find a way to prevent a terrorist attack here at home.

"No other agency in the state assesses the risks at during the presidential election or the recent Tuskegee Airmen museum dedication," Eller said.

The Alabama Fusion Center comes with a training room complete with computers, a place where investigators must learn to think, analyze, and identify credible threats.

Some may wonder if this is overkill since there have been no major attacks on the homeland since 9-11 and certainly nothing in Alabama. Eller says that's not the point.

"What we saw with the 9-11 hijackers is they actually went to Mississippi and tried to get drivers licenses and took flying lessons in Georgia," said Eller.

Alabama has just become state number 41 to create its own Fusion Center. Before,  Lt. Bill Eller had not even heard of it. Now he has and so has his wife.

The new center means new jobs. Eller plans to hire 9 criminal analysts along with a support staff that will work with law enforcement throughout the state and Fusion Centers across the country.

The Alabama Department of Homeland Security has provided more than a half-million dollars in start-up money to get the center going.  After that the center will be absorbed through the Alabama Department of Public Safety's budget.

Lt. Eller is encouraging the public to call the Alabama Fusion Hotline if they see something suspicious. That hotline number is: 1-866-229-6220.