The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was born as a result of a highly publicized murder that occurred in Greene County in December of 1949. The heinous crime aroused the emotions of citizens throughout the region. In an address to the Tennessee Press Association in January of 1951, John M. Jones, Sr., publisher of the Greeneville Sun, called for the creation of an unbiased state agency to assist local law enforcement in the investigation of serious crimes.
The Tennessee Press Association became intensely involved in the project. Mr. Jones was named chairman of a committee to work with the General Assembly, which was then in session. A bill was passed shortly thereafter, and Governor Gordon Browning signed it into law on March 14, 1951. The entity created was called the Tennessee Bureau of Criminal Identification (TBCI).
At its inception the Bureau was housed within the Department of Safety and functioned as the Department’s “plainclothes” division. On March 27, 1980, following a series of legislative hearings, the organization was re-established as an independent agency and renamed the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).
Since that time, the Bureau has grown significantly, and continues to meet the demands of providing up-to-date investigative, forensic science and crime information services as well as support to Tennessee’s entire criminal justice system. The TBI takes pride in the fact that it has evolved over the years into a respected law enforcement organization with highly trained, dedicated, professional employees. The Bureau is one of the few law enforcement agencies in the country to achieve the level of accreditation that it has, with both Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB), and continues its commitment to maintain those accreditations.
In July 2000, the TBI moved into a new consolidated headquarters building in Nashville and December 2001 saw the grand opening of a consolidated facility in Memphis. In 2008, the Knoxville Consolidated Facility was built and for the first time employees in East Tennessee are housed under one roof. These facilities are allowing the TBI to remain at the forefront of the application of new technologies in criminal investigations, in working to improve communication among other state and local law enforcement agencies, and in vigorously pursuing the ultimate goal summed up in the Bureau’s mission statement, to ensure “that guilt shall not escape, nor innocence suffer.”