published Saturday, August 8th, 2009

TBI building named for Arzo Carson, first director

NASHVILLE — The state has named the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation headquarters in honor of the agency’s architect and first director, Arzo Carson.

The 86-year-old Carson was on hand Tuesday in Nashville for a ceremony dedicating the building in his honor.

Gov. Phil Bredesen had signed the bill naming the structure the Arzo Carson TBI State Office Building.

“He played a pivotal role in creating the TBI we know today,” Bredesen said.

Then-Gov. Lamar Alexander tapped Carson — then the prosecutor in Scott County — in 1979 to help reform the previous Tennessee Bureau of Criminal Identification, which was under the Department of Safety and politically compromised.

According to The Knoxville News Sentinel, others at the ceremony included state Rep. Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, and state Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, sponsors of the bill to name the TBI building for Carson.

“He is still passionate about TBI,” Overbey said. “After talking to him today, I believe he always will be.”

Carson said his zeal for he agency concerns its mission.

“It is not a passion for politics,” he said. “It is a passion for knowing what the duty is.”

Carson crafted much of the legislation creating the new and more independent TBI and Alexander appointed him to be its first director. Carson served two terms, retiring in 1990.

His legacy includes advances in forensics, computer science, intelligence gathering and personnel training.

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