Feb 20, 2024 - News

Inside DPD's homicide investigations

A person holds a bullet on a white piece of paper

A medical examiner displays a fatal bullet for detectives. Photos: Courtesy of Richard Sharum

Dallas photographer Richard Sharum was given unprecedented access to the Dallas Police Department's homicide unit for nearly a year — documenting everything from crime scenes to office work to investigators' lives at home.

Why it matters: Sharum embedded with investigators in 2022, as the violent crime rate receded following a pandemic-era surge.

  • He got approval from department leaders, who allowed Sharum to ride along with detectives on late-night calls for an up-close view of modern police work in one of the largest departments in the country.

The big picture: Sharum followed officers through dozens of investigations, including gruesome murders and suicides. He also witnessed the tender off-duty moments detectives spent with their children.

A body, covered, on a highway in Dallas
A crime scene investigation on a highway.

Catch up quick: Sharum is a well-known documentary photographer whose work has appeared in galleries in Kyoto, Japan; São Paulo, Brazil; New York and Dallas. In 2015, Sharum displayed 60-foot photographs of Dallas residents experiencing homelessness on eight buildings downtown, including one facing City Hall.

By the numbers: DPD reported 214 homicides in 2022. Homicides in Dallas increased by almost 15% — to 246 — between 2022 and 2023, per DPD.

What they're saying: Sharum says this project was harder than anything he'd worked on before. "It was the day-in and day-out of constant death — homicides, accidental deaths, drug overdoses or suicides," he tells Axios.

  • "Suicides were the worst. I will never shake those."
A man handcuffed in the back of a police car
A suspect in the back of a police car.

Go deeper: Check out Texas Monthly's coverage of Sharum's work, with an introduction by Bill Shapiro, the former editor-in-chief of LIFE magazine.

What's next: Sharum's book, "American Homicide," will be published in 2025, by Gost Books.

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