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You Know FBI? No? This is.. For You..

History of the FBI
Origins: 1908 - 1910


The FBI originated from a force of Special Agents created in 1908 by Attorney General Charles Bonaparte during the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. The two men first met when they both spoke at a meeting of the Baltimore Civil Service Reform Association. Roosevelt, then Civil Service Commissioner, boasted of his reforms in federal law enforcement. It was 1892, a time when law enforcement was often political rather than professional. Roosevelt spoke with pride of his insistence that Border Patrol applicants pass marksmanship tests, with the most accurate getting the jobs. Following Roosevelt on the program, Bonaparte countered, tongue in cheek, that target shooting was not the way to get the best men. "Roosevelt should have had the men shoot at each other, and given the jobs to the survivors."

Roosevelt and Bonaparte both were "Progressives." They shared the conviction that efficiency and expertise, not political connections, should determine who could best serve in government. Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States in 1901; four years later, he appointed Bonaparte to be Attorney General. In 1908, Bonaparte applied that Progressive philosophy to the Department of Justice by creating a corps of Special Agents. It had neither a name nor an officially designated leader other than the Attorney General. Yet, these former detectives and Secret Service men were the forerunners of the FBI.

Today, most Americans take for granted that our country needs a federal investigative service, but in 1908, the establishment of this kind of agency at a national level was highly controversial. The U.S. Constitution is based on "federalism:" a national government with jurisdiction over matters that crossed boundaries, like interstate commerce and foreign affairs, with all other powers reserved to the states. Through the 1800s, Americans usually looked to cities, counties, and states to fulfill most government responsibilities. However, by the 20th century, easier transportation and communications had created a climate of opinion favorable to the federal government establishing a strong investigative tradition.

The impulse among the American people toward a responsive federal government, coupled with an idealistic, reformist spirit, characterized what is known as the Progressive Era, from approximately 1900 to 1918. The Progressive generation believed that government intervention was necessary to produce justice in an industrial society. Moreover, it looked to "experts" in all phases of industry and government to produce that just society.

President Roosevelt personified Progressivism at the national level. A federal investigative force consisting of well-disciplined experts and designed to fight corruption and crime fit Roosevelt's Progressive scheme of government. Attorney General Bonaparte shared his President's Progressive philosophy. However, the Department of Justice under Bonaparte had no investigators of its own except for a few Special Agents who carried out specific assignments for the Attorney General, and a force of Examiners (trained as accountants) who reviewed the financial transactions of the federal courts. Since its beginning in 1870, the Department of Justice used funds appropriated to investigate federal crimes to hire private detectives first, and later investigators from other federal agencies. (Federal crimes are those that were considered interstate or occurred on federal government reservations.)

By 1907, the Department of Justice most frequently called upon Secret Service "operatives" to conduct investigations. These men were well-trained, dedicated -- and expensive. Moreover, they reported not to the Attorney General, but to the Chief of the Secret Service. This situation frustrated Bonaparte, who wanted complete control of investigations under his jurisdiction. Congress provided the impetus for Bonaparte to acquire his own force. On May 27, 1908, it enacted a law preventing the Department of Justice from engaging Secret Service operatives.

The following month, Attorney General Bonaparte appointed a force of Special Agents within the Department of Justice. Accordingly, ten former Secret Service employees and a number of Department of Justice peonage (i.e., compulsory servitude) investigators became Special Agents of the Department of Justice. On July 26, 1908, Bonaparte ordered them to report to Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch. This action is celebrated as the beginning of the FBI.

Both Attorney General Bonaparte and President Theodore Roosevelt, who completed their terms in March 1909, recommended that the force of 34 Agents become a permanent part of the Department of Justice. Attorney General George Wickersham, Bonaparte's successor, named the force the Bureau of Investigation (pictured left) on March 16, 1909. At that time, the title of Chief Examiner was changed to Chief of the Bureau of Investigation.
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On Statistics

The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program was conceived in 1929 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police to meet a need for reliable, uniform crime statistics for the nation. In 1930, the FBI was tasked with collecting, publishing, and archiving those statistics. Today, several annual statistical publications, such as the comprehensive Crime in the United States, are produced from data provided by nearly 17,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States.

Other annual publications, such as Hate Crime Statistics and Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted address specialized facets of crime such as hate crime or the murder and assaults of law enforcement officers respectively.

Special studies, reports, and monographs prepared using data mined from the UCR's large database are published each year as well. In addition to these reports, information about the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), UCR Frequently Asked Questions, and UCR Incident Specific Questions are also available on this site.

Note: Most documents on this site are prepared in PDF (Portable Document Format). Selected tables are also available in Microsoft Excel format.

Crime in the United States


Crime in the United States (CIUS) is an annual publication in which the FBI compiles volume and rate of crime offenses for the nation, the states, and individual agencies. This report also includes arrest, clearance, and law enforcement employee data.

Crime in the United States


Crime in the United States (CIUS) is an annual publication in which the FBI compiles volume and rate of crime offenses for the nation, the states, and individual agencies. This report also includes arrest, clearance, and law enforcement employee data.

Hate Crime Statistics


Each year's edition of Hate Crime Statistics presents data regarding incidents, offenses, victims, and offenders in reported crimes that were motivated in whole or in part by a bias against the victim's perceived race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability.

Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted


The FBI annually compiles data concerning the felonious and accidental line-of-duty deaths and assaults of law enforcement officers and presents these statistics in Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA). Tabular presentations include weapons used, use of body armor, and circumstances surrounding murders and assaults of officers.

Additional UCR Publications


The UCR Handbook outlines the classification and scoring guidelines that law enforcement agencies use to report crimes to the UCR Program. In addition, it contains offense and arrest reporting forms and an explanation of how to complete them. The Handbook also provides definitions of all UCR offenses.

This publication presents supplemental UCR statistics auxiliary to those published in Crime in the United States with regard to age-specific arrest rates and race-specific arrest rates for the years 1993-2001.

National Incident-Based Reporting System


In response to law enforcement's need for more flexible, in-depth data, the Uniform Crime Reporting Program formulated the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). NIBRS presents comprehensive, detailed information about crime incidents to law enforcement, researchers, governmental planners, students of crime, and the general public. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division conducted the pilot demonstration of this program in 1987. Since then, implementation of NIBRS has been commensurate with the resources, abilities, and limitations of the contributing law enforcement agencies. Although participation grows steadily, data is still not pervasive enough to make broad generalizations about crime in the United States. However, several NIBRS studies and monographs are available on this site that demonstrate the great utility of NIBRS. Data collection and submission guidelines and NIBRS Frequently Asked Questions and NIBRS Incident Specific Questions are available as well to help law enforcement agencies with the implementation of and participation in NIBRS.

Many of these publications are in PDF (Portable Document Format). To view them you will need to have the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in installed on your computer. The Reader can be downloaded at no cost from Adobe's web site.

If you have trouble accessing any of the Uniform Crime Reports, please contact a member of the Communications Unit staff by telephone at 304-625-4995; by facsimile at 304-625-5394; or by Internet at cjis_comm@leo.gov. E-mail data requests cannot be processed unless requesters include their full name, a mailing address, and a contact telephone number.
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