Fusion Center links law enforcement in TN

(Story by Autumn Allison, Tia Runion, Joe Shelby, Lindsey Driver)

After answering a knock on the door, a mother is beaten and stabbed, and her 4-day-old infant has been kidnapped.

In September 2009, this is the situation Nashville Metro Police Department and soon the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation found themselves in.

Tammy Silas, an Alabama resident, posed as an immigration official in order to gain access to the child, then fled after assaulting the mother.For three days, TBI agents and its Fusion Center, along with FBI analysts, funneled the various tips on Silas’ whereabouts leading to her arrest and the child’s safe return.

Crimes like this have become increasingly easier to solve thanks to the Fusion Center.

Open and functioning since 2007, the Fusion Center is an information sharing center that brings together information from local agencies to form an “analytic resource.” Statistics from campus police units are included in this wealth of information in compliance with the 1989 College and University Security and Information Act.

The idea for Fusion Centers was originally born out of the aftermath of 9/11, but Tennessee’s center was developed more as a better inter-agency communication system.
The Director of Homeland Security approached me in 2006-2007  about creating a Fusion Center here in Tennessee. I said we needed to come up with “a concept that can help local law enforcement with all crimes: burglaries murders, rapes, anything,” said TBI Director, Mark Gwyn.
Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee State University are two Tennessee campuses with fully functioning law enforcement agencies, recognized by both county and city units.
Based on information from the Census Bureau, Tennessee violent crime rates have decreased. In 2008, the total of  of violent crimes was 721.6 and was reduced to 666.0 in 2009.

This is in line with national trends that show violent crimes have been decreasing since the late 90s according to the National Crime Victimization Survey.

According to TBI records, from 2009-2010, reported offenses decreased 4.6% on Tennessee college campuses.

Since Belmont started its crime prevention program, campus violence has slightly decreased from past years, Belmont Investigations and Special Initiatives Major Renee Albracht said.

Every month, Nashville’s Metro Police Department hosts crime stoppers meetings to discuss crime trends among local colleges, universities, police departments and hospitals.

“If some thing’s happening here, it’s most likely happening at Vanderbilt or Lipscomb as well,” Albracht said. “We’ve been able to solve a lot of crimes by working together.”
Though Vanderbilt and MTSU police could not be reached for comment, the collaborative nature of the Fusion Center allows campus police to communicate with the larger law enforcement community to prevent crime.
The charts below show the most current crime rates for Belmont University and Vanderbilt University. 
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