In this Feb. 1, 2019, file photo, Michael Sauschuck answers questions before the criminal justice and public safety committee at the State House in Augusta. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Law enforcement leaders are pushing back against a proposal to eliminate a center created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to collect, analyze and share intelligence between the state and federal government.

The Maine Information and Analysis Center came under fire last summer when a lawsuit revealed it had gathered intelligence on gun buyers, power line protesters and employees of a camp for Israeli and Arab teens.

Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, wants to eliminate the center and return more than $1 million to the general fund.

But Maine Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck testified Monday before the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee that the public would be less safe without the center.

He previously acknowledged that the unit gathered information on Maine citizens involved in legal activities but insisted “we’re not spying on people.” The information from social media accounts and other open sources, not investigations, and is compiled for law enforcement.

Among the proponents of the program were the Maine Sheriff’s Association, the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the colonel of the Maine Warden Service and Adj. Gen. Douglas Farnham, head of the Maine National Guard and Commissioner for the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.