Allan Pinkerton and His Impact on Law Enforcement

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Allan Pinkerton and his Impact on Law Enforcement

Allan Pinkerton started his career in law enforcement in 1849 when he was appointed the first detective in Chicago. In the 1850s, he joined forces with Chicago attorney Edward Rucker in forming the North-Western Police Agency, later known as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency which is still in existence today as Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations, a subsidiary of Securitas AB. Pinkerton's business insignia was a wide open eye with the caption "We never sleep." Pinkerton developed several investigative techniques that are still used today, such as “shadowing”, which is surveillance of a suspect, and “assuming a role”, which is undercover work. Many of his agents worked undercover as confederate soldiers in an effort to gain military intelligence. Pinkerton was given the title Chief of Intelligence Service which was later known as the US Secret Service. Pinkerton was a steadfast investigator for the railroad, continuously working to bring down train robbers such as the Reno Gang and Jessie James. Unfortunately his pursuit of Jessie James was never successful, and was considered his greatest failure. He continued to oppose labor unions, and suppress a revolution to end slavery and give citizens the right to vote. While this is just a handful of his many accomplishment, perhaps the greatest of all, was the project he was working on at the time of his death. Pinkerton was compiling a database that would centralize all criminal identification records. This data base is still used and maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. This is one of the most commonly used data bases in law enforcement as well as a very valuable tool. Because of the importance of this data base, Pinkerton will continue to be a great legacy of law enforcement.
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