SCOTT COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – Law enforcement officials across the state are remembering a World War II veteran from East Tennessee considered the father of the modern Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, who died earlier this week at age 100.
The Tennessee Bureau of Criminal Identification was established in 1951 as a division of the Department of Safety. The agency was re-established as an independent agency and renamed to the TBI in 1980.
Arzo Carson served as TBI Director from 1980 to 1990 but his career in law enforcement started in Scott County.
“He [Carson] had been a prosecutor, an attorney right down the line to he put together the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation,” Scott County Sheriff Brian Keeton said. “So he was known as the father of the TBI.”
Arzo Carson grew up in Scott County and graduated from Oneida High School.
The Navy Veteran served in World War II. He then came back home to Tennessee where he graduated with a law degree from UT and eventually became attorney general for the 19th Judicial District.
That’s when he got the call to help start the TBI.
“He really set a standard for this organization that we continue today,” current TBI Director David Rausch said. “His legacy lives on not only on our building here in Nashville at headquarters with his name on it but also that the core philosophy that Director Carson put in place, which was, ‘that guilt shall not escape nor innocents suffer.’”
That quote is on several TBI buildings including the one in Knoxville.
“He was a great mentor to all, law enforcement in the surrounding counties and in the state of Tennessee,” Keeton said.
Law enforcement from across the state are honoring a trailblazer and East Tennessee native.
“Our hearts are hurting for them today,” Rausch said. “Our condolences go out to each of the family members of Director Carson, and we just have lost the treasure of Tennessee.”
Carson was 100 years old.
A service will be held on Friday at Carson Memorial Park where he will receive full military honors.