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As head of the Intelligence Fusion Division, Mel Blizzard finds new ways, often through technology, to keep key people in the know.
As head of the Intelligence Fusion Division, Mel Blizzard finds new ways, often through technology, to keep key people in the know. (By Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)

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By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mel Blizzard wants people to talk. He wants them to have information. And he'll tell you your safety depends on it.

"How can we have everyone at all times know what's happening in our city?" said Blizzard, head of the D.C. police department's Intelligence Fusion Division.

His job is to find new ways, often through technology, to keep critical people in the know, so if there's an attack or a disaster, communication will help -- rather than hinder -- the situation.

Blizzard is a good communicator. His cellphone runs out of juice twice a day, he said.

"His primary role is making sure we are connected in every way imaginable in threat detection and homeland security," said police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who brought Blizzard to the department in June.

Blizzard is the civilian head of the D.C. Fusion Center, which is housed in an undisclosed location, and acts as a secure clearinghouse for all threat-related information that affects the District.

Through the Fusion Center, Blizzard aims to set up a system so the District can be connected to all "critical partners" in the national capital region: 11 local jurisdictions, 2 states and 231 federal departments and agencies. He also works with the fire and health departments, various transportation agencies and other organizations, including the business community.

"Our job is to get information, analyze it and disseminate it to the right people to prevent terrorism and reduce crime," Blizzard said.

Blizzard, 55, is a retired Baltimore County police commander and Maryland's former manager of the Office of Domestic Preparedness.

His expertise in homeland security led to him meeting Lanier several years ago when she was head of the D.C. police homeland security unit. The two immediately had mutual respect for each other.

"Mel is very well known in the region and in federal circles," Lanier said. "He has incredible credibility. If Mel says he's going to do something, it's done."

One of his latest projects to keep police up-to-date is to install "temperature boards," huge electronic screens with real-time information about ongoing crimes, threats, natural disaster forecasts and other critical information.

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