History Of C.L.I.A.

openingcermThe Clandestine Laboratory Investigators Association, Inc. began with a conference sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Information Network (RMIN) held in Reno, Nevada in 1987. The original purpose was to see if there was any interest in clandestine lab training, and if there was any interest in forming an organization of clan lab investigators. That conference was a success and another was scheduled for 1988 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The conference was once again sponsored by RMIN and a meeting was held for those that were interested in becoming a formal organization. Throughout that week meetings were held and at the end of the week, the CLANDESTINE LABORATORY INVESTIGATORS ASSOCIATION (CLIA) was officially formed and a Board of Directors was appointed. The first President of the Association was Lee Osborne of the South Lake Tahoe Drug Task Force. At this original meeting, a total of 13 western states were represented. In 1989, the conference was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Paul Pearce of the Camas, Washington Police Department was appointed President. The 1990 conference was held in Portland, Oregon and on to Boise, Idaho in 1991. It was also in 1991 that our Association with the Drug Enforcement Administration began. The DEA was officially invited to participate on the Board of Directors. Since that time, we have had representation from the DEA Headquarters on the Board of Directors. The CLIA was also contacted by the United States Senator Joseph Biden to provide testimony for a Senate Subcommittee Hearing on clandestine drug labs and environmental issues. President Paul Pearce traveled to Washington D.C. and testified before this subcommittee.

In 1992, the Annual Conference was once again held in Salt Lake City, Utah. This was the first year that the DEA provided Recertification Training with representatives of the Clan Lab Training Unit out of Quantico, Virginia. The DEA has provided this training for the Association every year since then. It was also in 1992 that the Association was asked for input regarding the Chemical Control Amendments Act of 1992 by Senator Slade Gorton of Washington. The Association corresponded with Senator Gorton in support of this legislation. In 1993 the conference was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was at this meeting that the Executive Board was established from the Board of Directors to run the day-to-day operations of the Association.

In 1994 the CLIA went international. The Annual Conference was held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and we had representatives in attendance from the United States, Canada, England, Holland, Belgium, Poland, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Columbia, Argentina, Thailand, and Australia. It was also in 1994 that the CLIA developed a 40-hour Clandestine Laboratory Safety Certification course and began offering it to departments throughout the country. Since then, we have provided this course to agencies in Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa and Nebraska. CLIA also developed courses in lab recognition, 24-hour first responder, and 8-hour lab supervision courses that comply with the guidelines set by OSHA for responding to clandestine laboratories. CLIA has provided these courses to agencies in Alaska, Ohio, Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa.

In 1995, the Annual Conference returned to Las Vegas, Nevada and the first synthesis classes were held. We have managed to provide these classes every year since then so that officers and agents can see first hand how to manufacture the drugs they are investigating or get a jump on methods before they become a problem in their jurisdictions. This has proven to be an asset to officers’ and agents’ expertise and testimony, adding to their ability to successfully prosecute manufacturers of illegal drugs.

colors 04 confIn 1996, the Annual Conference was held in Sacramento, California. At this conference, Tom Harber of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (now retired) became the Executive Board Chairman of the Association. Tom is the only remaining Board member that was at the original meetings that established the Association in 1988. The CLIA was also invited by the DEA Administrator, Tom Constintine, to participate in the first National Methamphetamine Summit held in Washington DC to develop a national strategy to combat the growing methamphetamine problem in the United States. Executive Board Chairman Tom Harber, Administrative Director Al Acosta and Training Director Charles Illesley represented the Association at this Summit.

The Association for the first time branched from the western United States and held our Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas and in 1998 to Orlando, Florida. It was at the 1998 conference that the Administrator of the DEA, Tom Constintine, addressed the membership. It was also in 1998 that the Association officially became incorporated as a nonprofit association and received tax-exempt status.

In 1999, the Association made it to the Midwest and held its Annual Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. The Association has grown to the point of being nationally recognized as a leader in clandestine laboratory training since its beginnings in 1988. We continue to strive to maintain that reputation by providing the most current and up-to-date information to law enforcement personnel in the area of clandestine laboratory enforcement. A total of 132 different Federal, State and local agencies from across the United States were represented at the Iowa conference which attests to our efforts to keep law enforcement officers safe in the performance of their duties.

In 2000, the Association arrived in the Pacific and held its conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. Over 230 law enforcement, fire and prosecutor personnel attended the conference.

In 2001, CLIA held it’s training conference in Kansas City, Missouri, just days after the September 11 attacks. Over 300 law enforcement, fire and prosecutor personnel attended the conference. The will and dedication these attendees displayed to arrive at the conference should show the world the quality of the personnel working in our law enforcement and fire services communities.

In 2003, CLIA held it’s training conference in Calgary Canada. Over 300 law enforcement, fire and prosecutor personnel attended the conference. The highlights of the conference included a presentation by former Louisiana State Trooper Bobby Smith and a class on the manufacturing of MDMA.

CLIA has held conferences in the following locations, 2004-Nashville, Tennessee, 2005-Omaha, Nebraska, 2006-Denver, Colorado, 2007-Columbus, Ohio, 2008-Charlotte, North Carolina, 2009-Las Vegas, Nevada, 2010-Nashville, Tennessee and 2011-Indianapolis, Indiana, 2012-Kansas City, Missouri, 2013-Tulsa, Oklahoma..

As we move into the future, we look forward to continuing our efforts to train officers to become the best in the field of clandestine laboratory investigations.