In 1969, to curb the drug problem in Nevada, Governor Paul Laxalt requested the Legislature form a state narcotics bureau. As a result, the Division of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs was created within the Department of Parole and Probation. The Division of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs was charged with the detection and apprehension of narcotics violators and sources of illicit drug supplies.
In 1971, the Department of Law Enforcement Assistance was organized. The Division of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs was transferred to the new department and renamed the Division of Investigation and Narcotics. The newly named Division was also charged with providing criminal investigative assistance upon request to any sheriff, chief of police, district attorney or attorney general in the state. At first, the Division was generally associated with homicide cases, but it was not long before it was covering a wide variety of criminal cases in response to the requests for service.
In 1981, the Department of Law Enforcement Assistance was eliminated. The Division of Investigation and Narcotics was renamed the Division of Investigation and assigned to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Because the Department of Motor Vehicles included the Highway Patrol and the state law enforcement computerized message switching system, this move consolidated the new major state level law enforcement agencies into one department. Also in 1981, the Department’s title was changed to the Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety. This change reflected its expanded law enforcement role.
During the 71st session of the Legislature in 2001, a bill was passed that split the Department into two separate Departments; the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Public Safety.
The Division has seen many changes, additions and deletions, but it has survived for 35 years continuing to provide investigative services to local law enforcement throughout the state.
The Division concentrates on organizing joint narcotic task forces in rural communities; participating in major narcotic and gang investigations with federal agencies; providing major crime investigative services to local, county, and state law enforcement; is involved in international investigations through its INTERPOL State Liaison Office; and is currently the lead state agency in Homeland Security intelligence matters.