Inside The Ohio Emergency Management Agency’s Intelligence Unit

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They’ve helped to save lives, prevent attacks and find missing people in just hours, without even leaving their desks.

The men and women of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency's central hub work around the clock to keep Ohio safe.

Within the hub is Ohio's only 24-hour criminal intelligence unit, which assists local police who may not have the time or resources to pursue certain situations.

They were able to track down a man suspected of participating in human trafficking. After a victim provided law enforcement with the man's first name and phone number, it only took the intelligence unit a few hours to find him.

"My analyst turned to using what they call open source research and found an ad on a website called backpage where the phone number was listed with an escort service. At that point, he was able to relay that information over to the local police department," said Lt. Michael Hasson, commander of the unit.

They're about to add six more analysts, bringing the total to 16, but the qualifications are important. The analysts must undergo training and learn to use complicated databases and tracking programs. 

Capt. Brenda Collins, commander of the entire hub, said all the training is worth it. She's confident in the ability of her analysts.

"Any one of those analysts in there, I would put up against any analyst anywhere else," Collins said.

Caleigh Bourgeois is a fellow in Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau. Follow her on Twitter @caleighreports.