The Field Investigation Unit is comprised of nearly 90 Special Agents and supervisors who represent the foundation of TBI and who are considered the heartbeat of the organization. A highly publicized and heinous murder that occurred in Greene County in December of 1949 prompted the publisher of the Greenville Sun to call for the creation of an unbiased state agency to assist local law enforcement in the investigation of serious crimes. In 1951, the Tennessee General Assembly and Governor Gordon Browning created the Tennessee Bureau of Criminal Identification (TBCI) which evolved over the years into the TBI. Today’s field agents investigate everything from high profile murders to official misconduct of public officials to embezzlement cases and financial fraud.
The Field Investigation Unit is divided geographically into four regions. Each region is headed by a Special Agent in Charge (SAC) who supervises an Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC), 14 to 19 Special Agents, two administrative secretaries and at least one Law Enforcement Information Coordinator. Each Judicial District has one to three field investigators assigned to that district. In addition to investigating cases at the district attorneys’ requests, these agents are also responsible for investigations predicated upon TBI’s original jurisdiction, assisting other law enforcement agencies, and gathering intelligence to be reported to the Criminal Intelligence Unit. The Field Investigation Unit continues to place a priority on public corruption and criminal official misconduct cases as well as violent and organized crimes. TBI polygraph examiners perform hundreds polygraph examinations each year, with the vast majority of these exams being performed at the request of local law enforcement officials.
The West Tennessee Field Unit consists of 18 people, including one Special Agent polygraph examiner, two administrative secretaries, one Law Enforcement Information Coordinator and fourteen Special Agents. The unit is supervised by one Special Agent in Charge (SAC) and one Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC). The regional office is located in Jackson with a satellite office in Memphis. The West Tennessee region is made up of 21 counties and seven judicial districts.
The Middle Tennessee Field Unit, which is headquartered in Nashville, covers 28 counties and nine judicial districts. The unit, consists of 24 people, including one SAC, one ASAC, one Special Agent polygraph examiner, two administrative secretaries, one Law Enforcement Information Coordinator and 18 Special Agents. Two of the agents are totally dedicated to social security fraud investigations and their salaries and expenses are paid 100% by the federal government.
The East Tennessee Field Unit office is located in Chattanooga. A field satellite office was opened in Cookeville in April 1998. There are 20 people who work in this unit including one ASAC and SAC, one Special Agent polygraph examiner, two administrative secretaries, one Law Enforcement Information Coordinator and 14 Special Agents. The East Tennessee region is made up of 25 counties and seven judicial districts.
Upper East Tennessee
The Upper East Tennessee Field Unit is responsible for 21 counties and eight judicial districts. One SAC and one ASAC supervisors approximately 17 people, including two administrative secretaries, one Special Agent polygraph examiner, one Law Enforcement Information Coordinator and 13 Special Agents. The office is located in Knoxville with a satellite office in Johnson City.