CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Though the FBI’s CJIS Division has operated in Clarksburg since 1995, many residents likely don’t know much about what goes on at its campus.
But Stephen Morris, the assistant director at CJIS, said he wants the community to know more about the division, about the essential role it plays in law enforcement and in national security.
Morris stopped by Thursday to meet with The Exponent Telegram’s editorial board and talk about CJIS, what the division does, how it’s evolved over the years and the relationship it’s built with the surrounding area.
The story of CJIS is one not many people have heard, even within the FBI, Morris said.
“This is a great division, and the stories, the success we’ve had here, a lot of it is unknown even by our own organization,” Morris said. “What comes out of this building — this campus here — affects the world.
“Our community needs to know that.”
The Identity Management Business
Morris talked a little about the history of the FBI’s CJIS Division and its specialization as the department in charge of managing fingerprint records, something he said the FBI has been doing since 1924.
“So here we are — 90 years we’ve been doing this stuff,” Morris said.
In 1995, what was then known as the Identity Division — in charge of managing this fingerprint database — relocated from Washington, D.C. to Clarksburg, a move orchestrated by the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd.
“They needed the space at headquarters, because the Identification Division took up floors and floors of that Hoover building in D.C. It was just rooms full of filing cabinets with fingerprint cards,” Morris said. “What came out here 20 years ago was rows and rows of fingerprint cards and people who process fingerprint cards.”
Even today, Morris said, the division’s primary function is to maintain the national fingerprint database to aid law enforcement.
“That’s our core mission, maintaining that central repository to assist those guys,” Morris said.
But the CJIS Division has evolved over the years, Morris said, expanding its functions alongside the rapid development of technology.
“Now we’re finding ourselves in the IT and information technology business, and of course that spawned other uses where we can share information, disseminate information, not just with state and local folks but sometimes with international partners,” Morris said…