ADA — Gary Perkinson and Adam Whitney are the two local Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents.
The OSBI has a long and illustrious history in the Sooner state.
Gangs of outlaws roamed Oklahoma during the early 1920s, robbing and burglarizing banks and terrorizing the citizens of many Oklahoma towns. These gangsters often escaped lawmen by fleeing across county lines. And the U.S. Marshal’s Service was the only law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction.
In 1925, Governor M.E. Trapp, in his “State of the State Address,” recommended the creation of an agency of special investigators or state police to combat the outlaws. Later, the state Legislature appropriated $78,000 to establish the 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 or operatives were credited with reducing the number of bank robberies in the state by roughly 75 percent. Agents accomplished this by developing leads and using informants which were considered by many to be innovative investigative techniques at the time.
In 1939, the Bureau became a division of the Department of Public Safety. It was during these years that the agency became known as 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.
Beginning in 1957, the OSBI began to emerge as the professional law enforcement agency it is today. Employees were placed under the Merit System and — for the first time — working for the agency was seen as a career opportunity rather than temporary employment.
In the wake of a controversial investigation of former Gov. David Hall by the bureau, the agency was removed from the control of the governor’s Office. In1976, a seven-member independent commission was created to oversee the activities of the OSBI.
The makeup of the commission includes one police chief, 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 OSBI commission appoints the director, hears complaints, establishes guidelines and serves as a buffer between the OSBI and potential political pressures concerning any particular investigations.
There are only seven agencies or entities that can request the OSBI to conduct an investigation: Police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys, the attorney general , the governor, Council on Judicial Complaints and any legislative committee with subpoena power. The OSBI has original jurisdiction in three areas — auto theft, oil-field theft and threats against public officials.
On Sept. 11, 2002, the OSBI was recognized as the first Oklahoma state law enforcement agency to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement