By Margot Mifflin
Updated March 13, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

Since its birth in 1839, photography has been used in detective work to document ”truths” that say as much about the presumptions of the photographer as they do about the subject. Police Pictures: The Photograph as Evidence bears this out through ghostly and sometimes heartbreaking photos of slaves, defeated Indians, opium smokers, political prisoners, and celebrity outlaws like Bonnie Parker. The weirdest by far shows gangster Dutch Schultz in a Newark hospital, examining the bullet holes in his abdomen that would take days to kill him. Though some of these shots are inadequately explained, others are provocative reminders that verity’s in the eye of the beholder. B+