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Booking photo flap involving T-shirt logo leads to new sheriff policy
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The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office will institute a new policy of blurring non-relevant logos that appear in department booking photos after the decision to remove the logo from the shirt of a man who ultimately pled guilty to an attempted sex crime with a child caused concern among some residents. 

A photo of 36-year-old David Alanis was posted to the Lathrop Police Services Facebook page after the man was taken into custody for arranging to meet a minor – who turned out to be a Sheriff’s Office employee posing as a decoy – for sex. Alanis was one of 24 men that was ultimately arrested in conjunction with the sting operation, but the photo released by the agency showed him handcuffed just inside of Lathrop police station on 7th Street and clearly showed him wearing a “Ted Howze for Congress” t-shirt.

When the campaign for Howze – who is running again to try and unseat first term Democrat Josh Harder who defeated incumbent Republican Jeff Denham in November of 2018 – reached out to the office to request that the picture be taken down and replaced with a standard mugshot, the decision was made at the time to blur the logo after it had already been shared publicly. 

In an interview with Fox 40, Withrow noted that in hindsight the decision to blur the logo after the photo had been released was a “mistake” but reiterated that politics played no part in the decision to do so. 

“In no way was the blurred logo of the shirt a political move. The logo was not relevant to our investigation and this is why we typically use mugshots that focus on the facial features,” Withrow said in a statement. “Had the logo been shown, it could have been construed as a political move. The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s office is non-partisan. 

“Our only focus in the investigation of these cases and protecting the public.”

Withrow said that after reviewing the request, the decision was made to blur the logo not because of the political candidate, but because the choice of apparel had no relevance to the investigation or the crime – noting that they will do the same whether it’s an apparel line or a corporate entity. 

The only exception to that rule, Withrow said, will be if the logo can be used to identify somebody that is being sought for a crime – which wasn’t the case with Alanis who was already in custody. 

According to Tim Rosales, Howze’s campaign manager, representatives for the candidate never asked the sheriff’s office to alter the image in any way, but requested that the standard “mug shot” photograph that had been used for the other men arrested in the same sting operation be used in Alanis’ case as well.

Rosales provided a copy of the original request that “respectfully” asked that the mugshot of the person be used rather than the photo that was circulating primarily because he was in no way affiliated with the campaign or the candidate. 

In a blanket statement released to all local media outlets regarding the matter, Howze’s campaign outlined the candidate’s position on those convicted of sex crimes and reiterated that the person depicted in the photograph was in no way affiliated with the campaign. 

“Dr. Howze believes in a zero tolerance, one strike and you’re out policy for convicted sex offenders, including that individual who absolutely isn’t affiliated with our campaign as well as the rest of those caught due to good work of the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office,” the statement read.

As part of a plea deal with the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, Alanis pled guilty to the charges stemming from the sting operation back in April, and will in exchange receive a sentence of six months in the San Joaquin County Jail as well as a lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.