Is Photography a Method of Social Control?

From Mug Shots to Crime Scene Photos, a New Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Explores How the Camera Casts Suspicion

Paris, 1888: An eccentric police officer named Alphonse Bertillon creates a new way of looking at criminals or suspected criminals. Law enforcement has already been dabbling with the relatively new medium of photography. Some police departments collect “rogues galleries” of portraits. But Bertillon wants to systematize. He proposes a single procedure. One front view, one side. Standard lighting and angles. His method catches on—in France, across Europe, in the U.S. The mug shot is born.

The mug shot might be a particularly clear connection between photography and law enforcement, but it’s …

When L.A.’s Mayors Were Crooks

The Legendary Owner of Clifton’s Cafeteria Fought to Keep the City Clean

Flipping channels recently one night I landed on the 2012 film Gangster Squad. A vague memory of the pre-release studio trailer played in my head, followed by the thought that …

Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell

Devoted to the Red Sox, Cilantro, and a Desk Everyone Else Thinks Is Ugly

Jim McDonnell has been chief of the Long Beach Police Department since 2010; previously, he served with the Los Angeles Police Department for 29 years. Before participating in a panel …