CHARLESTON – West Virginia’s pre-eminent law enforcement and homeland security expert is now a top leader for a national organization representing 80 state and major urban area fusion centers.
Military Affairs and Public Safety Deputy Secretary Thom Kirk has been elected vice president of the National Fusion Center Association by its executive board. Developed in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, these agencies gather, analyze and share intelligence and information. The national association is holding its annual conference and training event this week in Alexandria, Va.
“Kirk is highly respected throughout the United States in the law enforcement and intelligence arena,”Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary Jeff Sandy said.“Being an officer on the National Fusion Center Association board allows Kirk to showcase West Virginia’s accomplishments, which have been outstanding during the Justice Administration.”
NFCA President Mike Sena nominated Kirk to become vice president earlier this year. Kirk, who also remains NFCA treasurer, helped found the W.Va. Intelligence Fusion Center in 2008 and was its leader until last year. Sandy named him deputy Cabinet secretary and general counsel when Gov. Jim Justice took office in 2017.
Kirk began his law enforcement career as a trooper, serving for nearly a quarter-century and rising to the rank of colonel and State Police superintendent before retiring. While at the State Police, Kirk conducted major undercover and anti-narcotics trafficking investigations, helped start its Intelligence Exchange, and helped create and lead its Bureau of Criminal Investigations. He also earned a law degree during that time, and has since been both an assistant county prosecutor and a special assistant U.S. attorney. He is a sought-after instructor, guest speaker and expert witness on such subjects as undercover operations, drug investigations, organized crime, police administration, behavioral sciences and major case felonies.
More recently, Kirk has represented the NFCA at the request of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command to advise and assist the Coral Triangle Initiative. This six-nation group encompasses nearly 2.5 million square miles between the Pacific and Indian oceans and includes Indonesia, one of the world’s largest and most populous nations. A navy veteran, Kirk’s mission has included demonstrating the benefits of the fusion center approach to thwart the drug trade, human trafficking and slavery, piracy, illegal fishing and the transoceanic smuggling of stolen and counterfeit goods.
Fusion centers allow local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement and public safety agencies, as well as private sector partners, to share information, resources and expertise. The fusion center approach harnesses their respective strengths to prevent, detect, investigate and respond to all hazards, including terrorist and criminal activity.