California Bureau of Investigation

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California Bureau of Investigation
CBI Seal
Cbi logo.jpg
CBI Logo
CA DOJ Special Agent Badge
Abbreviation"CBI" or "BI"
MottoLiberty and Justice Under Law
Agency overview
Formed1927; 92 years ago (1927)
Preceding agencies
Annual budget$233 million (Division of Law Enforcement)
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionCalifornia, U.S.
HeadquartersSacramento, California

Division Chief responsible
  • Kevin Gardner, Chief, Division of Law Enforcement
Agency executive
  • Kent Shaw, Director, Bureau of Investigation
Parent agencyCalifornia Department of Justice Division of Law Enforcement

The California Bureau of Investigation ("CBI" or "BI") is a statewide criminal investigative bureau under the California Department of Justice (CA DOJ), Division of Law Enforcement (DLE), administered by the Office of the State Attorney General that provides expert investigative services to assist local, state, tribal, and federal agencies in major criminal investigations ranging across the state.


The California Office of the Attorney General (AG) was created in 1850; however, the law enforcement and criminal investigative aspects of the CA DOJ were not established until the creation of the Division of Criminal Investigation (the predecessor to the BI) in 1927. This group of investigators, along with the now defunct California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE), provided the California AG with the initial criminal investigative capabilities it still has today.

While the criminal investigative mission of the CA DOJ was not solidified until the 20th century, the BI can trace its roots back to that of the original California Rangers; the first statewide criminal investigative and law enforcement agency created on May 17, 1853. Although the California Rangers were quickly disbanded (following their success in bringing the violent Five Joaquins gang to justice), their special law enforcement capabilities and statewide investigative mission now reside primarily with CA DOJ Special Agents.[1]

Although often still referred to as "CBI", the BI stopped *officially* calling itself the "California Bureau of Investigation"[2] following a massive reorganization and consolidation of the CA DOJ's Division of Law Enforcement beginning in 2009 and ending in 2012. Although still essentially the same organization, the official name was changed to the Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence (BII)[3] in 2009, and then the BII merged with parts of the BNE to create the new Bureau of Investigation on February 17, 2012.[4] The BI commonly works on a variety of cases, including murder and narcotics trafficking.

Today the BI can be assigned at the discretion of the State Attorney General, performs investigations on public land for incidents that occur outside of local jurisdictions, or can be requested by local authority for various reasons (e.g. areas that are too small to have local detectives or cross-jurisdiction coordination of major crimes). The BI also operates several programs including a Special Investigations Team (SIT) handling high-profile investigations and special investigative requests from the Attorney General's Office, a state task force program, a Special Operations Unit (SOU) targeting murder suspects and violent criminal groups with special equipment/resources, an Electronic Crimes Unit (ECU), LA CLEAR, and the state anti-terrorism program. The BI also participates in federal task forces such as the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

In fiction[edit]

  • A fictional version of the agency, still using the CBI name, was featured in the television series The Mentalist. It featured several units, with the one featuring the main characters focusing mostly on the investigation of homicides, and occasionally kidnappings or missing persons. The Region 1 DVD release of the fourth season of The Mentalist includes the special CBI: Behind the Badge, featuring interaction with actual law enforcement officers in California, specifically focusing on a homicide task force with several agents and officers of different agencies (including those from CBI), who tutored those who worked on the program in providing a realistic portrayal.[5]
  • A CBI Special Agent was also featured in a third season episode of the crime television series Numb3rs, where the CBI agent worked together with the FBI to catch a murderous cult leader.[6]
  • Beginning in 2008 (with the most recent written in 2016), New York Times best selling author Jeffery Deaver wrote a series of crime drama novels starring the fictional Special Agent Kathryn Dance of the CA DOJ/CBI.


  1. ^ California Department of Justice. [1] Accessed 2017 Dec 30.
  2. ^ "California Bureau of Investigation". Archived from the original on 2009-02-22. Retrieved 2012-06-08.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. ^ "Bureau of Investigation & Intelligence". Archived from the original on 2009-03-21. Retrieved 2012-06-08.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. ^ accessed March 11, 2012
  5. ^ REVIEW: The Mentalist: The Complete Fourth Season (DVD)
  6. ^ "Nine Wives". Numb3rs. Season 3. Episode 12. CBS.

External links[edit]