Connecticut’s Counterterrorism and Intelligence unit is very busy these days assessing the risk of armed protests this weekend at the Connecticut State Capitol.
“It’s the military, it’s the FBI, it’s the state and all their resources, it’s the division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. It’s local fusion centers like you have here in Hartford, like you have in New Haven and you have in Bridgeport. They all share information,” Brian Foley, a former Hartford police officer who works for the state Department of Emergency Management and Public Protection, said.
The fusion center, also known as the Connecticut Intelligence Center or CTIC, was created after 9/11 to help federal, state and local law enforcement share intelligence about potential threats. It’s used by law enforcement before any big demonstration.
Last year there were 90 protests at the state capitol.
“To say that our analysts right now in CTIC are otherwise preoccupied would be an understatement. In events typically for any type of protest there would be a lot of information sharing,” Foley said.
Foley explained that happens for any protest.
But an FBI memo warns that the protests leading up to the inauguration at all 50 state capitols would be armed protests, similar to the one last week at the U.S. Capitol.
“The Capitol Police also have their own intelligence gathering. They’re very good at predicting and looking at what happens,” Foley said.
But it’s hard to gather intelligence when many of the would-be protesters have left social media platforms.
“Should social media shut things down, should people shut their own stuff down it hinders intelligence gathering for law enforcement.”
But Foley said they will be prepared.
“The state of Connecticut is prepared and I am confident in the preparations that are being done and I apologize in advance that we can’t reveal at this point everything that’s going on, but we’ll be prepared and we’ll be ready. The citizens of Connecticut will be safe,” Foley said.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin says to keep the area safe takes a coordinated effort with local, federal and state authorities.
The mayor recently joined a meeting with mayors from the 50 state capitals. They heard from experts and shared what they're doing in response to threats.
“We won’t tolerate and won’t accept and we will be prepared for any acts of violence or any threats to our community or to our State Capitol," Bronin said.
Foley added: “I’m confident in the preparations they’ve made here in the state of connecticut. I can say the people of the state of Connecticut have been fantastic and the issues you’ve seen nationally you haven’t seen here in this state.”