Washington, D.C., officials recently unveiled a massive new operations center designed to prepare law enforcement for similar emergencies to that of the January 6 protest at the Capitol.
The D.C. Emergency Operations Center contains 42,000 square feet of space and will be utilized by more than two dozen law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, Secret Service and Washington Police Department.
“We have learned a lot from the past three years,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at the ribbon-cutting. “Be prepared for anything and everything, whether that’s a global pandemic or an emergency at the U.S. Capitol.”
According to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the Emergency Operation Center will allow the DHS to “work seamlessly with our key partners” at the federal and local levels.
Previously, law enforcement agencies in D.C. shared a “fusion center” to facilitate information-sharing, but it was limited in scope.
The center was created in December 2020 and was used by the DHS and D.C. Metro Police Department following the January 6 riot.
However, officials say the new space is larger and more advanced.
Chris Rodriguez, director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency for the District of Columbia, said the new center will allow federal law enforcement officers to be permanently stationed there and offers real-time intelligence sharing capabilities.
The facility features screens mounted on its walls that can show surveillance cameras around the city or social media accounts being monitored for threatening or violent speech in real-time.
“If someone’s seeing something on one of the DDOT cameras, they can turn to an intel analyst and say, ‘We have something going on,’” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the center will be able to respond more effectively to emergent events.
During the January 6 riot, there was a lack of coordinated response and intel.
“If we’re getting calls from the New Jersey State Police, which we did, and they’re on their way down I-95, ‘Where are they going? Who are they reporting to?’ We didn’t have some of those granular answers because we didn’t have the right people in (the building) and we didn’t have access to any of the data,” Rodriguez explained.
D.C. National Guard staff members and personnel from the White House’s National Security Office may also make use of the center.
The center is expected to be fully staffed by the Fourth of July.