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The Fusion Center keeps watch on the unknown in Las Vegas

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 4/22/2014 8:14 am

LAS VEGAS -- The anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing reminds us that in fighting terrorism – domestic or abroad – the enemy is often unseen.

In a series of special reports, News 3's Marie Mortera focuses on counter terrorism efforts in Clark County.

The Fusion Center is buzzing over new monitors, featuring views up and down what's called Nevada's most precious road. Las Vegas Boulevard was once identified as an al Qaeda target by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

One monitor wall is the centerpiece of the "real-time crime center," where 17 local, state and federal agencies combine their eyes to keep vigilant watch on The Strip.

Long-time Metro police captain Chris Jones, once in charge of the robbery-homicide bureau, is used to fighting street crimes. In the Fusion Center, he faces a different, more menacing enemy.

"You always think about what if, have I connected all the dots, have our folks connected all the dots, have the information we need,” Jones said.

Keeping a keen eye out for the unknown comes down to using many eyes. Detective Jason Leavitt is on rotation to represent Las Vegas in Washington, D.C.'s national operations center.

"We're there for information sharing, but we're there as a resource to help them gather information or push information back home," Leavitt said.

This task was pushed to the limit on April 15, 2013, when bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, which injured more than 250 people and killed 3.

"I had placed a phone call, was on the phone with Las Vegas, almost simultaneously when they said a bomb went off," Leavitt said. "For the first 24 hours, it was chaotic."

"I had this detective from Boston next to me, getting real time updates from his department and was able to push that back to Las Vegas," Leavitt said.

In Las Vegas, Capt. Jones remembers asking where the threats are.

"OK, they've hit there. Is there a larger plot; are we at risk; where are our threats?” Jones said.

We eventually learned the bombings were isolated, but Las Vegas was ready just in case. Jones says he hopes to expand the counter-terrorism team.

For now, their full-time partners include the FBI, Nevada national guard, Henderson and North Las Vegas police, even the Clark County school police who face a frightening trend -- a rise in school shootings, Jones says.

Tomorrow, News 3's Marie Mortera gets a close look at tools used to fight terrorism.



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