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Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

BCA History

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is Established

The Minnesota Legislature created the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) in 1927 as a division of the Office of the Attorney General. The BCA was established to assist Minnesota peace officers in solving local crimes and apprehending criminals. The Division of Statistics, a forerunner of the Minnesota Justice Information Services (MNJIS) section, was added in 1935, as were additional personnel and full police power for the Bureau's agents. The addition of personnel made establishing field offices throughout Minnesota possible. The BCA Forensic Science Laboratory became operational on January 1, 1947, making chemical analysis and microscopic study of evidence possible. The laboratory was located in the Shubert Building at 488 North Wabasha Street in Saint Paul. The entire laboratory occupied 350 square feet. It began as a one-person laboratory offering chemical analysis and microscopy.

Growing to Meet a Growing Need

The needs of the laboratory continued to grow, and in 1962 the BCA moved its lab to 1246 University Avenue in Saint Paul. In 1969, the BCA, along with several other state agencies, became a member of the newly created Department of Public Safety. ​

Renovations took place at the University Avenue location from 1978-1980. The BCA in 1990 became one of the nation’s first forensic laboratories to offer DNA analysis. Shortly thereafter, the BCA was the first laboratory in the nation to identify a suspect based solely on DNA.

New Regional Office

To meet increasing demand for forensic science services, the BCA opened its Bemidji Regional Office and Forensic Science Laboratory in 2001. The new facility at 3700 Norris Court NW contained a 26,000 square foot regional laboratory.

CriMNet Program Office Added to Help Protect Citizens and Communities

The CriMNet Program Office was added to the Bureau in 2002, providing a framework for integrating criminal justice information systems to ensure the protection of citizens and communities in Minnesota and throughout the United States. In 2003, the Saint Paul headquarters moved to its present location on Maryland Avenue. It is a state of the art facility housing the BCA’s Forensic Science, Investigative, CriMNet Program, and CJIS. The building is 224,000 square feet with almost 106,000 square feet occupied by the laboratory.

BCA Selected by FBI for Innovative Lab Research

In 2004, the Bureau became one of four laboratories in the nation selected by the FBI to serve as a regional mitochondrial DNA laboratory. Today, the Saint Paul and Bemidji labs’ combined staff of nearly 100 continue to be leaders in developing and employing the latest in forensic technology.

The BCA Today

The BCA today employs over 300 people, has 11 field offices around the state, and its forensic lab has an international reputation as one of the finest in the country. The BCA’s Crime Scene Team of criminal investigators and laboratory specialists continues to respond to requests from Minnesota law enforcement agencies for assistance in investigating suspicious deaths.

Leaders in Technology

The BCA was first in the nation to implement an Automated Fingerprint Identification System, allowing the submission of fingerprints via computer. The BCA serves as a national model with its Minnesota Missing and Unidentified Persons Clearinghouse, the Minnesota Crime Alert and the Amber Alert programs. The BCA’s Predatory Offender Unit currently maintains records of more than 17,000 predatory offenders in Minnesota.

The continued growth of the BCA has enabled it to better serve local law enforcement agencies. The BCA is proud to be a leader in the criminal justice services it provides.