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History of OSBI

In the early 1920's, gangs of outlaws roamed the state terrorizing the citizens of many Oklahoma towns. These gangsters often escaped lawmen by fleeing across county lines. The U.S. Marshal's Service was the only law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction, but its officers were outnumbered by the bandits.

In 1925, Governor M.E. Trapp recommended the creation of an agency of special investigators to combat the outlaws. As a result, the legislature appropriated $78,000 to establish the State Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, now known as the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

A year after its creation, the Bureau's three agents were credited with reducing the number of bank robberies in the state by 75 percent. Agents accomplished this impressive feat by developing leads while using informants - an investigative technique which was considered innovative by many experts across the nation.

In 1939, the Bureau became a division of the Department of Public Safety and was renamed the State Crime Bureau. This arrangement lasted until 1957 when the Bureau was placed under the direct control of the Governor's Office and renamed the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI).

The OSBI remained under the Governor's direct control until the unthinkable occurred - the OSBI was called in to investigate the most powerful leader in the state. In the wake of the controversial investigation of then Governor David Hall, the agency was removed from the control of the Governor's Office. State leaders sought ways to reduce the political pressures left behind in the aftermath of the Hall investigation. In 1976, a seven-member independent commission was created to oversee the activities of the OSBI. The makeup of the Commission includes one chief of police, one sheriff, one district attorney, and four lay members. These members are appointed by the Governor and approved by the Oklahoma Senate to serve seven-year staggered terms. In general, the commission appoints the Director, hears complaints, and serves as a buffer between the Bureau and potential political pressures concerning any particular investigations.

Due to limited original jurisdiction, the OSBI is primarily a requestor agency. The majority of our investigations are initiated at the request of another law enforcement or governmental entity. Currently, under Oklahoma law, only the following entities can request the OSBI's assistance: the Director of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs; the Chief Medical Examiner; all law enforcement officers including Police Chiefs and Sheriffs; District Attorneys; the Attorney General; the Governor; the Council on Judicial Complaints; the Director of the Department of Human Services; District Court Judges; and legislative committees with subpoena power. The OSBI has original jurisdiction in the following areas: vehicle theft, oil field theft, threats against public officials, violations of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act, and violent crimes committed on the state's turnpikes.