SBI History

In 1937, the State Bureau of Identification and Investigation was established, "In order to secure a more effective administration of criminal laws of the state, to prevent crime, and to procure the speedy apprehension and identification of criminals." (North Carolina general statute).

FredHandy.jpgThe first director of the SBI was Frederick C. Handy, named in 1938. His office was on the first floor of the State Highway Department Building. His salary was $300 a month.

The Bureau began operation on Sept. 1, 1938, and had a working budget of $25,622. The SBI had three units: Identification, Investigations and Criminal Statistics.

A former McDowell County sheriff, Oscar Franklin Adkins, 46, was the first SBI agent.   
In 1939, the agency was renamed the State Bureau of Investigation. The SBI Technical Laboratory was established that same year and became one of the first crime labs in the nation.

In 1940, the SBI purchased its first polygraph (lie detector test). Two agents were in charge of firearms, documents, polygraph and identification.

Fingerprint-Analyst-(1).jpgIn 1941, the SBI moved into the first floor of the newly-completed Justice Building. Their arsenal consisted of two Winchester rifles, two Winchester shotguns, four Thompson submachine guns, one tear gas gun and one Springfield Army rifle.

In 1943, the SBI began publishing a booklet for law enforcement agencies that contained a list of wanted persons, parole violators, stolen property, missing persons, unsolved cases and other law enforcement information.

By 1953, the SBI had 23 employees. Nine more were added by 1956, and SBI's Technical Laboratory reached 66,768 examinations.

In 1969, the Police Information Network was created as a central computerized network of criminal justice information. PIN was placed under the N.C. Dept. of Justice and was located in a house on North Blount St., Raleigh.

The SBI hired the first African American special agent in 1969. Clarence Gooche attended the SBI's first Special Agent Academy and took the oath of office on April 1, 1969.

The first female special agent hired by the SBI was Laura Jane Ward. She was hired Jan. 1, 1971 and assigned to the crime lab.

The first female field agent assigned to work criminal cases was Karen C. McDaniel. She attended the fifth academy and graduated Nov. 21, 1973.


The SBI moved to its current SBI headquarters on Garner Road in 1976, the site of the former Governor Morehead School.  The buildings were constructed in 1929 as a school for blind and deaf students. In 1977, the state crime laboratory moved to the Garner Road campus as well.

To assist law enforcement in processing crime scenes, the SBI added a Mobile Crime Lab, one of the most used services. 

AirWing-(1).jpgThe Air Wing Unit was started in 1976 to investigate and fight high-level drug trafficking in North Carolina. Special Agent C.D. Holbrook was the first chief pilot.

In 1979, the SBI opened the Western Lab in Swannanoa.  It was later moved to the Biltmore area, and in 1996 moved to Skyland.

In 1985, the Police Information Network merged with the SBI's Identification Section and became the Division of Criminal Information, DCI. They were responsible for collecting, storing and disseminating criminal history and statistical information about crime.

In 1986, the SBI began using the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, AFIS, to assist with storing and comparing fingerprints.  This new computerized fingerprint system became a critical tool in fighting crime.

Arson-Dog.jpgSpecial Agent Phil Brinkley and canine, Liberty, became the SBI's first accelerant detection team in the mid-80's. Together, they worked fires across the state and served on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm's National Response Team.

On March 25, 1995, the SBI was the first state-level law enforcement agency to become accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, CALEA.

The N.C. Sex Offender and Public Protection Registry was created in January, 1996. SBIBryanBeatty.jpg 

In 1999, Bryan E. Beatty became the first African-American director of the SBI.  He served until January, 2001.

SBIRobinPendergraft.jpgIn 2001, Robin P. Pendergraft was appointed the first female director of the SBI. She served until July 2010.

In 2006, the Information Sharing and Analysis Center, ISAAC, opened in Raleigh.

In 2012, the SBI commemorated its 75th year.  The SBI had 594 employees in five divisions:  Administration, Field Operations, Professional Standards, Special Operations and the State Crime Lab.  

For more than 75 years, the SBI operated as an independent agency under the N.C. Dept. of Justice. In 2014, legislation moved the SBI from under the Attorney General's Office to the Dept. of Public Safety for administrative purposes. The SBI Lab remained under the Dept. of Justice. Operationally, the SBI serves as an independent agency and reports directly to the governor.  

In 2014, the governor began appointing the director of the SBI for an eight-year term. In April, 2016, former deputy chief of investigations in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department,  Bob Schurmeier, was named SBI director, to serve an eight-year term.