Iowa Department of Public Safety Division of Criminal Investigation

General Information

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Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
75 Year History

As the state of Iowa celebrated 150 years of statehood in 1996, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation celebrated 75 years of existence.

Authorized by legislative action in 1921, special agents were employed by the governor of the state of Iowa as early as 1906.

Efforts to organize a state investigative unit began in the late 1800s, and were intensified by the efforts of Attorney General H.W. Byars in 1907 and 1908.

In 1910, Attorney General George Cosson employed a few special agents who assisted in the investigation of a "sensational" case. However, the amount of agents employed proved to be inadequate, and in 1915, the Legislature approved the Special Agents Act. This act additionally provided the governor with special agents assigned specifically to his office.

By the end of 1916, 400 bootleggers, 100 gamblers and 25 other persons had been arrested and sent to prison by the efforts of these agents. Additional legislation in 1917 continued their efforts, and a $25,000 budget was approved for the special agent staff.

The Iowa Bankers Association served as advocates in pressuring the Legislature to create the Bureau of Criminal Investigation because they were experiencing a rash of robberies and the investigations needed coordinating.

The 1921 budget of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, when established by legislation, was $37,500. The Bureau operated under the supervision of Attorney General Ben Gibson.

In August of 1921, Iowa became the fourth state in the union to develop a state identification service or Bureau of Records & Identification within the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Oscar Rock became the Bureau of Criminal Investigation's first chief in 1921, and served until his death in January of 1924.

Mr. Rock's successor was James E. Risden.

James E. Risden
James E. Risden

Henry Passno served as the head of the Records & Identification Section from 1921 to 1929. During its first year, the Records & Identification Section received fingerprints totalling nearly 6,000, and 441 accused criminals were identified through fingerprints.

Today, approximately 35,000 fingerprint cards arrive in the Records & Identification Section each year for criminal history checks. Additionally, the Records & Identification Section searches about 70,000 prints for law enforcement each year for criminal history inquiries.

The first police radio system was developed within the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

In 1924, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation began statewide schools of instruction for all law enforcement. These schools were designed to educate law enforcement in new technologies. In 1926, with the election of John Fletcher as Attorney General, the number of special agents rose from 12 to 18. In 1927 and 1928, the number of agents grew to 24, with the Bureau's budget increased to $50,000.

Some laboratory services began in 1929, with the organization of a ballistics unit, handwriting and typewriting identification service, and the identification of a variety of areas becoming possible.

In 1932, each special agent was paid $2,000 a year, provided with a vehicle and travel expenses not to exceed $4 daily.

Park Findley, a former Polk County Sheriff, was the Bureau's chief from 1933 until his death in 1935.

He was succeeded as chief by W.W. Akers.

W.W. Akers

W.W. Akers

During Akers' term as chief, a crackdown on marijuana distribution and use was initiated after it was thought to be a cause for insanity and a contributing cause of many serious crimes, including murder. Akers' characterized marijuana as "public enemy number one". Akers served as chief of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation until 1939.

R.W. "Doc" Nebergall succeeded Akers as Director of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation in 1939.

R.W. "Doc" Nebergall
R.W. "Doc" Nebergall

At that time the Bureau of Criminal Investigation became a part of the newly-formed Department of Public Safety. Nebergall gained a reputation as the "J. Edgar Hoover" of Iowa. Nebergall served as Director for 18 years, longer than any other director. Prior to becoming Director of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Nebergall served as Story County sheriff.

In the 1940s, science began to play a more important role in criminal detection. Advancements were made in the handwriting comparison and typewriter identification areas. Improvement saved investigators much time. In the summer of 1940, a peace officer course was credited with increasing the workload of the BCI Laboratory. At that course, officers could sign up for classes in general criminal investigations, fingerprinting, photography, and personal combat tactics. Solving crime woulad have been impossible without technological advances. Much of the new technology in the laboratory in those years was the personal property of Director Nebergall.

Nebergall was succeeded in 1957 by Tillman "Tommy" Thompson, who served as Director of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation from 1957 until 1966.

Tillman "Tommy" Thompson
Tillman "Tommy" Thompson

Robert D. Blair served as Director of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation from 1966 until 1972.

Robert D. Blair
Robert D. Blair

During this period, a full time criminalistics laboratory administrator was hired, and the Iowa Criminalistics Laboratory began to evolve within the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. An Intelligence Unit was formed in the bureau during those years as well.

Robert Blair was succeeded by Craig Beek in 1972.

Craig Beek
Craig Beek

Craig Beek Beek served as Director until 1977. During his tenure, some specialized units became a part of BCI in the areas of general fraud and welfare fraud. Marked crime scene units were put into service and staffed by crime lab personnel.

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Gerald Shanahan became Chief of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation in 1977.

Gerald Shanahan
Gerald Shanahan

During this period, the bureau underwent a name change and became the Division of Criminal Investigation. During this period, other investigative units of the Department of Public Safety were combined into the Division. They included the Vice Enforcement Division and the Narcotics Enforcement Division. Shanahan remained Director until 1983.

Thomas R. Ruxlow was Director of the Division of Criminal Investigation from 1983 until 1989.

Thomas R. Ruxlow
Thomas R. Ruxlow

During his tenure, the division, in cooperation with the sheriffs and police chiefs throughout Iowa put together a Law Enforcement Intelligence Network (LEIN) as it has become known. LEIN continues today as an effective statewide organization aimed at developing intelligence information and using various traditional and non-traditional concepts of solving criminal cases.

Since the installation of the LEIN program in Iowa, many other states have modeled similar programs to combat crime in their own states.

In 1985, a Special Agent in Charge was trained in criminal profiling of violent cases at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and began to work with the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program set up by the Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

In 1987, the Narcotics Unit was separated from the Division of Criminal Investigation and became known as the Division of Narcotics Enforcement.

In 1988, the Division of Criminal Investigation acquired the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). Additionally, the Missing Persons Clearinghouse became a part of DCI.

Darwin Chapman was Director of the Division of Criminal Investigation from 1989 until 2003.

Darwin E. Chapman
Darwin E. Chapman

Since 1989, a Gaming Unit was organized within DCI to regulate gaming and enforce gaming laws in Iowa's newest industry. Also, the the position of Gaming Enforcement Officer has been created to deal with the expanded gaming enforcement responsibilities on Iowa's nine riverboat casinos.

In July of 1995, DCI was given the responsibility of developing and implementing the state's Sex Offender Registry.

Eugene T. Meyer was the Director from August 26, 2003 to September 8, 2006.

Director Eugene T. Meyer
Eugene T. Meyer

Eugene T. Meyer became Director of the Division of Criminal Investigation August 26, 2003, and was a member of the Iowa Department of Public Safety since 1968. During his tenure with DCI, Director Meyer has seen a number of changes in law enforcement. Chief among them are advances in technology related to forensic science, development of the States Sex Offender Registry and expansion in the Division's involvement with the Casino Gaming and Race Track Industry. Gene retired as DCI's Director on September 8, 2006.

Stephen E. Bogle succeeded Eugene T. Meyer as director of DCI effective September 8, 2006. On June 27, 2008, Steve became the Executive Officer for Commissioner Eugene T. Meyer of the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Stephen E. Bogle, Director
Stephen E. Bogle

John F. Quinn succeeded Stephen E. Bogle as director of DCI effective June 27, 2008. Upon re-organization of the Department of Public Safety, Quinn ceased to be DCI Director in January, 2012.

John E. Quinn
John F. Quinn

The mission of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is to provide law enforcement services to qualified city, county, state and federal agencies who request the expertise or resources of the division.

To that end, the Division of Criminal Investigation is committed to providing quality services for investigations, gaming regulation, criminal history information, intelligence and forensic science services.

The Division of Criminal Investigation will continue to provide these services with the highest professional and ethical standards, keeping foremost in our operation the rights and safety of the public.

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