New FBI Facility in Clarksburg will Bring Biometric Research Together | Times West Virginian
CLARKSBURG — Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were ready to celebrate Tuesday as they gathered for a ribbon cutting at a new facility in Clarksburg.
The Criminal Justice Information?Services (CJIS) hosted a dedication for the new Biometrics Technology Center that is 360,000 square feet. The facility will be home to several hundred FBI and Department of Defense employees.
Construction on the building began in 2011.
Stephen Morris, the assistant director for the FBI’s CJIS, said he was honored to be part of Tuesday’s dedication.
“For me, it’s particularly gratifying,” Morris said. “To be assistant director here at the time that we christen the facility is a special privilege for me.”
Morris said he can remember 10 years ago when officials were writing ideas on napkins for the potential site.
The Biometrics Technology Center will be a place for research, development and testing in biometrics such as palm prints and facial recognition.
Morris said the facility in Clarksburg will bring biometric research together under one roof. Employees are currently located at different sites in West Virginia.
He said ultimately the facility in White Hall at the Middletown Mall, which the FBI has been renting for about 20 years, will be closed.
The Biometrics Technology Center is still considered a construction site, but Morris said officials hope to have employees working out of the new building by the end of this calendar year.
“It’s a one-of-a-kind facility,” Morris said. “It’s a great honor and privilege for us to have (this) facility here.”
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was in attendance for Tuesday’s dedication. Manchin said he was thrilled to be part of the ribbon cutting.
“I’ve watched this evolve. I heard all the criticism back in the late ’80s when Sen. Byrd appropriated money for the FBI center to move from northern Virginia to West Virginia,” Manchin said. “Everyone believed that first of all, people wouldn’t come from Virginia, but next of all, they didn’t think we had the workforce in West Virginia to do the job.”
Manchin said those beliefs were proved wrong. He said the people who came from Virginia love working in West Virginia.
“I am here to say thank you to all of the West Virginia workers,” Manchin said during his speech.
Manchin and Morris both talked about the partnership with the Department of Defense. Manchin said it’s important to see how much redundancy there is in government.
He said the new facility in Clarksburg will keep the country ahead of the curve.
“I think we all have to realize it’s a very troubled world we live in,” Manchin said. “We’re going to have to continue to stay ahead of the curve and be on the cutting edge of technology.”
Amy Hess, the executive assistant director of the FBI Science and Technology Branch, traveled from Washington, D.C., to be at Tuesday’s event.
“This is probably one of the highlights,” Hess said. “When I get to come here and open a facility like this so we can see everyone come together, (it’s great).”
Hess thanked the people who took part in the ceremony and those who helped make this vision a reality. She also thanked the community for the continued support.
Morris said the new Biometrics Technology Center is more than just a building.
“For us, it’s trying to capture the energy,” Morris said. “It represents a synergy of all the biometrics activities that the U.S. government has to bear.”
Tuesday’s ceremony also provided FBI officials the opportunity to honor those who worked toward designing, funding and constructing the Biometrics Technology Center.
By: Angelee Wiley
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