A Look Through the LAPD's Stunning Photo Archives

Old photographs from the infamous police department will be on display inside a fake police station at Paramount Studios.

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An estimated one million images taken by Los Angeles Police Department officers and criminologists since the 1920s sit in storage at the City Records Center in downtown L.A. Later this month, 50 of these photographs will be on exhibit inside a fake police station at Paramount Studios.

The second annual Paris Photo Los Angeles has put together Unedited! The LAPD Photo Archive as part of its massive photo fair at Paramount Studios from April 25 through 27. The shots, most uncredited and taken between 1930 and 1960, show black-and-white crime reenactments, forensic scenes, even robbery notes. 

The full LAPD collection came to life in 2001, when local photographer and LAPD reserve officer Merrick Morton pored through them to show at a gallery he co-owns with his wife.

Though influenced by that exhibit, Paris Photo curator Julien Frydman brings a new, outsider perspective to the collection, one that plays with the idea of "old L.A." imagined through film and media. The mysterious photographs appear almost as film noir stills, creating what Frydman says, is something "lost between fiction and reality."

Detail of bullet holes in screen. Date: 2/3/1930. Photographer: Driver
Detail of two bullet holes in car window. Date: 10/10/1942. Photographer: Unknown
"Onion Field" reenactment with suspect, Jimmy Lee Smith, and detectives. Date: 1963. Photographer: Unknown
Victims feet hanging off bed. Date: 9/13/1934. Photographer: Oliver

Top image: "Stick up don't move smile" bank robbery note. Date: 11/3/1965. Photographer: Unknown

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