North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation

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North Caroline State Bureau of Investigation
Agency overview
Formed 1937; 79 years ago (1937)
Jurisdiction North Carolina
Headquarters Raleigh, North Carolina
Employees 1,250
Agency executives
  • Bob Schurneier, Deputy Director
  • Chriss Laws, Assistant Director
  • Brian Neil, Assistant Director
  • Brent Culbertson, Assistant Director
Parent department North Caroline Department of Public Safety

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) is a state-level law enforcement agency in North Carolina. The agency has statewide jurisdiction and investigates homicides, robberies, property crimes and case thought to be serious. The agency is usually requested by the local police or sheriff departments to be part of any case.[1]

In 2012, the SBI received its fifth reaccreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.[2]


Early History[edit]

In 1925 the North Carolina General Assembly created the State Bureau of Identification. At the time it was attached to the newly formed Department of Corrections. The deputy warden H. H. Honeycutt was designated as the director of the new Bureau. A fingerprint laboratory along with the office space for the Bureau was located on prison ground. The funding for the bureau would come from appropriations made to the prison system. The bureau’s main responsibly was to keep track of police and criminal records within the state and to receive and send information to other states. The bureau also conducted studies on the records they received. [3]

The General Assembly 1937 passed legislation that established the State Bureau of Identification and Investigation (SBII) which was directly overseen by the governor. To finance the bureau every criminal case finally disposed of the courts $1 additional cost was assessed and paid to the State Treasurer of North Carolina. One-half of this amount was to be allotted to the bureau. In 1942 the then-director of the SBI Fred C. Handy wrote this in the News & Observer a local newspaper regarding the early months for the agency.

“One year after the passage of the act, on March 15,1938, the governor [[[Clyde R. Hoey]]] appointed a director with authority to proceed with the creation and operation of the bureau… On July 1, 1938, the first special agent was appointed, and during the same month a firearms identification and questioned document expert entered the services of the bureau. On Aug. 15, 1938, the first fingerprint expert was employed. Necessary scientific equipment for the bureau was secured during the following months and made ready for service to the enforcement agencies of the state…” [4]

Two years later in 1939 the legislature created the North Carolina Department of Justice transferring the (SBII) responsibilities, materials, and funds into the department. In the following decades, the General Assembly passed and enacted several laws giving new duets which included authorizing private detectives within the state, and the role of investigating arson and damage to, theft of, or misuse of state-owned property. It was also during this time that North Carolina’s General Assembly disbanded the North Carolina Department of Justice. [3]

Modern History[edit]

On Nov. 3, 1970, the people of North Caroline went to the polls to vote on seven proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution. Six of them were approved including one that required the legislature to reduce number the of administrative departments within the state government that totaled more than 300 at the time. It was because of this that North Carolina Department of Justice was recreated and placed under the leadership of the state’s Attorney General. The states Crime lab and the (SBI) were also placed under the control of the Attorney General. [5] The following years also saw more responsibility for the SBI. The State Bureau would now perform background checks of appointees waiting to be confirmed by the General Assembly. They would also take charge in cases regarding the investigation of suspected child abuse. [3]

2010 Evidence Scandal[edit]

Following a decision by a three-judge panel to exonerate Gregor Taylor who had served nearly seventeen years for the first-degree murder of Jaquetta Thomas. North Carolina's Attorney General Roy Cooper ordered an audit after it was discovered during the hearing that officials at the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation forensic lab withheld information leading to his conviction. The audit found that it was common practice for a select group of officials within the State Bureau crime lab to withhold information. The Two independent investigators Chris Swecker and Micheal Wolf cited close to 250 cases where information was withheld.[6] [7] [8]

Justice to Public Safty (2014)[edit]

North Caroline’s Governor Pat McCorry signed the 2014-15 budget that moved the SBI from the state’s Justice Department to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. [9] The move become a political fight between North Carolina’s Attorney General Roy Cooper who oversaw the states Justice Department and the Governor Pat McCorry along with the Republican Controlled General Assembly. It was the third time the N.C. Legislature tried to move the agency along with the State Crime Lab the first of these times was in 2011. [10]

At the time Roy Cooper was the likely Democratic Nominee for the upcoming Gubernatorial. This lead some to believe that the move was politicly motived. Neither Governor McCrory or Attorney General Cooper expressed this publicly. [11] Rather Cooper expressed a fear of the SBI losing its independence while investigating the exertive branch, other state departments, and members of the General Assembly. “When a U.S. Attorney or a prosecutor calls on the SBI, they want them to be an independent agency that can help find the truth.” Cooper said while talking to the Charlotte Observer in March of 2014. SBI agents, under Cooper, help make a criminal case against former Democratic Gov. Mike Easley and against aides of Gov. Bev Perdue, also a former Democratic governor of North Carolina. According to Cooper at the time the SBI was conducting investigations that involve legislators and the Department of Public Safety. [11]

Gov. Pat McCorry believed that the State Bureau of Investigation should be completely nompartisamismsm. This means that no elected politician should see should directly oversee the department; Rather a director who would be appointed to an eight-year term by the governor. [11] “Wherever you put the SBI, there could be potential conflicts of interest, I think the goal is to keep the politics out of all investigating and as mayor and a governor we have done that.” The governor said while also talking to the Charlotte Observer in Match of 2014. The Bill that Gov. McCorry signed also gave a raise to most state employees, provided almost another million dollars in state-funded scholarships and set up and education endowment fund which can collect donations from corporations and people who want to increase teacher pay. [9]He has campaigned on these aspects of the bill in his reelection bid.

In August 2014, the North Carolina legislature removed the SBI from the Department of Justice. For administrative purposes (i.e. human resources, payroll, etc.), the SBI became part of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. However, for operational and investigative purposes, the SBI serves as an independent agency that reports directly to the Governor. Under the 2014 legislation, the Director of the SBI is appointed by the Governor to an eight-year term, subject to legislative confirmation. As part of the same legislation, North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) became a division of the SBI. Bernard W. (B. W.) Collier II was the first SBI director appointed and confirmed under the 2014 law. [12]


The SBI assists local law enforcement with criminal investigations. They work closely with local police, sheriffs, and district attorneys, as well as federal investigators and federal prosecutors.

The SBI has statewide jurisdiction and assists in criminal cases at the request of the local department (municipal police department or sheriff's office), district attorney, or judges, usually for serious cases such as homicide, robbery, and property crimes. The local department maintains original jurisdiction over these cases. The SBI has original jurisdiction in cases involving drug investigations, lynching, arson investigations, election law violations, child sexual abuse in day care centers, theft and misuse of state property, and computer crime investigations that involve crimes against children. The SBI also charged with investigating organized crime and vice activities.

Organization and districts[edit]

SBI headquarters is located in Wake County. The bureau has several divisions:

  • Special Operations Division: Operates seven specialized investigative and operational units: Air Wing Unit, Computer Crimes Unit, Criminal Information and Identification Section, Diversion and Environmental Crimes Unit, Intelligence and Technical Services Section, and Special Services Unit.
  • Field Operations Division: Conducts most of the SBI's criminal investigations. More than 200 field agents and clerical personnel are employees in the Field Operations Division, including specialized investigators working in financial crimes, computer crimes, and Medicaid fraud. There are eight district offices across the state. Field operations also include SBI Field Procedure and statewide coordinators for arson, polygraph, and crime scene search.
  • Professional Standards Division: Conducts sensitive investigations involving public corruption and government misconduct, investigations for the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission, and cases involving theft and misuse of state property, and SBI internal affairs activities. The Division has two units within it: Financial Crime Investigations and Case Records Management.
  • Administrative Services Division: Oversees recruitment and training of SBI agents and analysts and conducts work on human resources, budget, purchasing, communications, physical security, accreditation.
  • Crime Laboratory Division: Oversees crime laboratory activities. The main SBI Crime Lab is in Raleigh. The Western Regional Lab is in Asheville and the Triad Regional Lab is in Greensboro.

The eight districts within the Field Operations Division are:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "State of North Carolina: State Bureau of Investigation". Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  2. ^ NC DOJ press release
  3. ^ a b c "State Bureau of Investigation | NCpedia". Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  4. ^ "SBI agents used all the latest techniques". newsobserver. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  5. ^ "Executive Organization Acts | NCpedia". Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Unit, By Taryn Fixel, CNN Special Investigations. "N. Carolina crime lab withheld test results in more than 200 cases". 
  8. ^ WRAL (2011-06-28). "Greg Taylor files lawsuit against former SBI agents ::". Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  9. ^ a b "NC House finalizes $21 billion state budget for 2014-15". 2014-08-02. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  10. ^ WRAL (2011-05-30). "NC Senate budget bill could mean SBI shift  ::". Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  11. ^ a b c "Senate budget tries again to move SBI from attorney general". charlotteobserver. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  12. ^ "SBI Director B.W. Collier Takes Oath of Office at State Capitol | State of North Carolina: Governor Pat McCrory". Retrieved 2016-10-14. 

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