June 26, 1901: Marshal A. A. Credille, the chief of police, went in front of the city commission and requested that some of his officers be allowed to work in plain clothes. Since 1884, all Pensacola police officers had been in uniform. Credille argued the advantages to allowing some officers to dress in plain clothes – to allow them to be able to conduct interviews in which the subjects weren’t as intimidated, and to allow officers to conduct surveillance. To Credille’s delight, permission was granted, as long as it didn’t cost the city any money.
With that decision came a new way of thinking. Suddenly, officers could be assigned to investigate crimes more thoroughly. Soon, Credille chose a group of men who would be dedicated to following up on crimes committed, and the Detective Bureau was formed.
The detective bureau has gone through several names – The Investigations Division – Section, Major Crimes Division, Criminal Investigations Division, etc., but the job has always been to research a crime all the way through to its arrest.
According to Hollywood, being a detective is one of the stylish jobs there is. After all, who can forget Rico Tubbs and Sonny Crockett from “Miami Vice?” They lived in chic apartments, wore nice, expensive clothes and drove a Ferrari Testarrosa – who wouldn’t want to be a detective?
When I first started at the Pensacola Police Department, I remember seeing a real detective wearing a polyester blazer driving a Ford Fairlane – THAT is reality!
Their dress? Today, Investigators wear dress casual clothing, such as a button-down shirt and slacks. Throughout the 1900s however, detectives wore a suit and tie. Until the 1970s, a fedora was also worn.
I don’t know about you, but I think we ought to bring the fedoras back!