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History of Private Investigators in the US

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 1052 words Published: 26th Jul 2018

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Private Security is a corporate business that provide armed and unarmed security services and expertise to public and private security companies. They provide patrolling, surveillance, and protection services for a fee. These services involve, but not limited to, security guards, watch dogs, security monitors, and parking security. Allan Pinkerton, Francois Vidocq, and Jay J Armes paved the way for modern day private security through their investigative techniques, tools, and services that are still either in used or influenced in today’s private security sector.

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Detective Allen Pinkerton first opened up the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in 1849. The Pinkerton agency patrolled the Wild West, stopped bank robberies, counterfeiters, and any crime clients paid or they seem deemed to stop, researched by Bond (2015). Allen Pinkerton and his agency became respected by many, including President Abraham Lincoln where he saved him from an assassination attempt plot on his way to inauguration as President during The American Civil War between 1861-1862. In addition, Pinkerton also created two techniques still in use by intelligence agencies today called Shadowing and assuming a role. Shadowing involve conducting surveillance of a known target or location and recording everything so that a theme emerges from the analysis; and assuming a role which is undercover work where the detective blends into the environment and infiltrates the criminal enterprise, pretending to be a member to gather insider information to stop and prosecute criminal activities, researched by Bond (2015).

Pinkerton also joined the United States forces and became the leader of the newly formed Union Intelligence Service during the American Civil War where he formed a massive network of spies leading all the way into the heart of the Confederate army, according to Fitzgerald (2017). Allan Pinkerton was also the first to create a database for criminals that outlined their criminal history and background, places of operation, tactics, galleria of criminal faces, etc. It is currently being used today by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Former criminal turned crime fighter Francois Vidocq wasVidocq was the first chief of the Sûreté, now known as the French National Police. The FBI, Scotland Yard, and other worldwide crime fighting organizations were based on the Sûreté, researched by FlourishAnyway (2016). Vidocq created the First Paris undercover detective unit where they monitored all known former and current criminals as they moved into the city as their new home. The small unit also assisted with arrests and crime prevention. The unit consists of 4 members, eventually 28, who wore plain clothes and had complete access to the city which was surprising. Vidocq only hired ex-criminals because they had the street smarts and tough mentality for the undercover detective unit job. The unit reduce crime rates in Paris to 40 percent by 1820. Vidocq also contributed to modern day investigation due to his creation of these tools: undercover police work, ballistics (the flight characteristics of bullets), record keeping system, plaster of Paris casting for shoe imprints, indelible ink and unalterable bond paper (he held patents on both), crime scene security, fingerprinting, and forensic anthropometrics (measurements of the human body in police work) researched by FlourishAnyway (2016). Due to his criminal activity during early years, he does not get the recognition he deserves. However, He was the father of Modern Criminal Investigation with superb detective skills that will never be forgotten.

Jay J Armes is an American Amputee private investigator, and an actor of repute and intelligence. He is known for the way he uses his prosthetics hands due to losing his real hands from rubbing two torpedo sticks together, detonating them and causing the mangling of both hands. This happened after he and his friend Dick Caples broke into a Texas & Pacific Railroad section house and stole railway torpedoes. In 1977, Ideal Toy Corp created a new line of action figures around him that included detachable prosthetics, electronic gadgets, and lastly Mobile Investigation Unit. He is the only private investigator having an action figure modeled after him.

In 1978, Armes joined forces with Ideal Toy Corp to create the Investigative Course for Children. The course was later introduced in many US schools at district level, researched by famous-detectives (n.d.). Also in 1978, Armes launched the comprehensive correspondence-based investigative training course, and paved the way for the formation of The Investigators Training Academy. In the same year, he also launched The Investigators Security Force. Afterwards, he created a mobile patrol and security service that served the society and provide refined security services. However, the patrol service was stopped after two years of effort. The Investigators Security Force then and now serves as the function to provide domestic government contracts and industrial security management abroad, reported by famous-detectives (n.d.). Armes is also a certified peace officer. His commitment in his work, and the many profiles of job roles that lead to great accomplishments shows that he is intelligent and can give answers to anything related to private security and any security field.


Bond, M. (2015, February 26). MultiBrief: Pinkerton’s legacy still lives in law enforcement, security fields. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from http://exclusive.multibriefs.com/content/pinkertons-legacy-still-lives-in-law-enforcement-security/law-enforcement-defense-security

Famous-Detectives. (n.d.). J.J. Armes. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from http://www.famous-detectives.com/j-j-armes.htm

Fitzgerald, P. (2017). Allan Pinkerton. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from http://www.thefinertimes.com/Spy-s/allan-pinkerton.html

FlourishAnyway. (2016, June 18). Eugène Vidocq: The Convict Who Became the Father of Modern Criminal Investigation. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from https://owlcation.com/social-sciences/Eugne-Franois-Vidocq-The-Convict-Who-Became-the-Father-of-Modern-Criminal-Investigation


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