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Policing - Private Police

agents war burns companies

The increased crime rates following the Civil War led businesses such as banks and railroad companies to hire private police services. The private agents not only protected cargo and property, but also actually pursued criminals and broke strikes by employees of the companies that hired them. Unlike local police they had no particular jurisdiction and could pursue suspects from town to town and across state lines.

The Pinkerton National Detective Agency was formed in the mid-nineteenth century and its agents even served as spies during the Civil War. By the 1870s the Pinkertons had established the first nationwide criminal database for its agents. More private police organizations appeared over the next few decades including the Burns National Detective Agency in 1904 by William J. Burns, a former Secret Service employee.

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