Please note: All photograph galleries can be found in the "Old Photos" section under the "About" section of the website menu (right above this text).
The Salem Police Department's Photo Lab was located in the basement of the 17 Central Street facility. During the mid to late 1970's the basement, to include the Photo Lab, flooded, destroying not just equipment, but thousands of crime scene photographs, negatives and prints. As we prepared to move to our new home at 95 Margin Street, Sgt. Richard Howell (Ret.), then head of the Department's Traffic Division, located several hundred photographs and negatives of traffic accidents from the 1950's, 60's, 70's and 80's.
Detective James Gauthier (Ret.), the Department's long time photographer, was able to locate and store old black and white negatives, as well as other photographs, from the same era. These photographs include social and other events attended by members of the Police Department. In time, some of those photographs will also be published on this website.
The pictures have been scanned into a digital format to be displayed on the Internet.
It would seem that in the early days of law enforcement, traffic accidents were few and far between compared to the statistics of modern day travel. The photo records show that even the slightest motor vehicle accident was fully investigated with photography, measurements and a detailed drawing. Unfortunately, this type of attention to all but the most serious accidents would not be the best use of police resources today. Society has changed. We are more mobile then we have ever been and the number of vehicles on the road is astronomical.
Accidents seemed to be so rare that even a minor collision drew a large crowd of bystanders. Sadly, the more serious the crash, the larger the crowds. These were simpler time for investigators as well. There was no need for crime scene tape or CSI technology. In many of the photographs bystanders are actually standing in what would be considered a crime scene today.
The photographs published on this website were not picked for their "shock" value, but for the history they contain. The photos show an era long since gone. Viewers will note buildings and businesses that have since been remodeled or removed; undeveloped land where there are now streets and structures; men in suits, ties and hats and women in dresses and scarves.
A Retirement Adds to the Collection
In October 0f 2009, Chief Robert M. St. Pierre allowed his collection of photographs gathered during his career to be published here. As a reflection to who he is, many of the photographs were given to him by private citizens in a showing of appreciation for service by members of the Salem Police Department.
The Public Joins In
Since publishing historical crime scene photographs from motor vehicle accidents many private citizens as well as the Salem Housing Authority have donated photographs from their collections. We are grateful for their donations and hope other will offer their old photos to be shared.
Want to Publish an Old Photo?
Contact Det. Sgt. Jim Page. Your photo will be scanned, returned to you, and published, with a note of credit and thanks. Call 978-744-0171 x154 or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org (digital files can be e-mailed)