PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The Boston Marathon Bombing, the Fort Hood Shooter, and the San Bernardino Shooting last December. All are examples of lone-wolf terrorists acting on their own, inspired by terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda or ISIS. The first line of defense is you. Ever since 9/11 police have improved systems to communicate with one another, but the only way a lone wolf attack can be stopped is if you know what to do when you see something that just seems off.
September will mark 16 years since the 9/11 terror attacks. It's a lot of time to digest what went wrong, and why authorities couldn't connect the dots and figure out what 19 Al Qaeda hijackers were planning.
"As a team we share information, that's the purpose, that's what the fusion center does," said Sgt. Arthur Avita.
As a direct result of 9/11, the states learned how important information sharing was. The fusion center opened in Arizona in 2004; it's also known as the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center. It's run by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Every law enforcement agency in the state, federal, state, cities and even tribal entities contribute to the operation in an effort to stop a terrorist strike.
"Information comes in, we connect the dots, we disseminate it, but not just in the State of Arizona is the leading fusion center as far as sharing information," said Detective Sarah Gasper.
On assignment to ACTIC is Det. Gasper and DPS Sergeant Avita. They are spreading the word about how important community support is.
ACTIC needs the private sector and individuals to let them know when something isn't right.
"San Bernardino was a reminder that we need to be vigilant," said Avita.
On Dec 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 injured when two people opened fire at a office holiday party in San Bernardino, California. Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were gunned down by police. A married couple, the two were called homegrown violent extremists by the FBI. It took a year to plan the attack, and the clues were out there for others to see, but no one connected the dots and reported suspicious activity.
It started as a terrorist information center but now has evolved to include real-time crime reporting as well.
"We are going to terrorism, all hazards, and all crimes in a real-time crime center," said Avita.
"Now we realize that tiny little incident, that could be a burglary or traffic stop, or something happening can turn into a major incident," said Gasper.
It can work as long as people going about their daily lives get out of their don't get involved mentality and report what they see.
"You can tell the people they are stepping up, they are making those phone calls and letting us know," said Gasper.
If you see suspicious activity, you can report it immediately to the fusion center by calling 1-877-272-8329 or 602-644-5805.