Our History

  • Historical photograph of scientist.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was born as a result of a highly-publicized murder 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.

On March 14, 1951, Governor Gordon Browning signed a bill into law establishing the Tennessee Bureau of Criminal Identification (TBCI) as the "plainclothes" division of the Department of Safety. 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 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 dedicated, professional employees.

Former Directors

Joe Boyd Williams W.E. Bud Hopton William Sheets Robert Goodwin
Joe Boyd Williams
1951-1953
W.E. "Bud" Hopton
1955-1971
William Sheets
1972-1975
Robert Goodwin
1975-1979
Arzo Carson John Carney, Jr. Larry Wallace Mark Gwyn
Arzo Carson
1979-1990
John Carney, Jr.
1990-1992
Larry Wallace
1992-2003
Mark Gwyn
2004-Present