November 9, 2001

New California Anti-Terrorism Information Center Launched

by California Attorney
General Bill Locker

The September 11 attack on America stressed a critical need for better sharing of important intelligence information on terrorist activities. While the terrorist attacks focused on the East coast, we must be prepared to protect Californians and our communities from acts of both foreign and domestic terrorism.

In order to protect our state from future assaults by the enemies of freedom, Governor Davis and I have established the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center. This Center will serve as the state's primary agency for gathering and disseminating law enforcement intelligence pertaining to terrorism. The Center will enable us to harness the skill and experience of California's 100,000 peace officers in the effort to provide speedy, thorough and reliable information on which to base critical decisions to protect the public.

Real-time, credible information is a critical weapon against terrorism. California law enforcement agencies currently have in place intelligence-gathering systems to combat illegal narcotics, gangs and organized crime activity. Now, information pertaining to reasonable threats of terrorist activity will also be collected in a centralized place for review, analysis and dissemination.

This secure central database will help law enforcement officers report, analyze and share information about suspected terrorists and their actions, and be available to all law enforcement agencies. A 14-member task force, including state officials, county sheriffs and police chiefs, and headed by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, will help direct the Center's activities.

A central repository of information available statewide to law enforcement is critical, because terrorists are highly mobile. While they may strike in one area, they will often plot their moves in another, making it critical that members of law enforcement have intelligence about activities in all parts of the state. Through partner data collection systems, we can share data not only with our neighboring western states, but throughout the nation.

Only data on suspected criminal activity will be shared. Civil liberties will be strongly protected.

Californians who observe suspicious behavior should contact their local law enforcement agencies. However, let's be sure not to blame the innocent for the evil deeds of others. We honor those killed on September 11 best by upholding America's values. There have been more than 230 reported anti-Arab hate crimes or incidents in six major California cities, slightly more than 10 a day since the terrorist attack. Even in our grief, we cannot condone or ignore acts of violence against Arab-Americans or other individuals mistaken for Arabs or Muslims.

Encouraging tolerance and understanding remains as important as ever to prevent assaults against innocent Californians. As Californians, residents of the most diverse nation-state in the world, let us lead the country in a call for all Americans to avoid acting out their anger against innocents.

Good technology, accurate information, good sense and dedication to our American values will be critical in the coming fight.

Return to the Frontpage