SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY -- After the arrest of 24 alleged sex offenders in a San Joaquin County sting operation some members of the public noticed a picture of one of the suspects had been doctored.
“So, we just used a photo of the gentleman just after he was arrested,” explained San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow.
In the original photograph, 36-year-old David Alanis happened to be wearing a T-shirt with a campaign logo of a man running for Congress. At the time, Alanis was being arrested after investigators say he contacted someone he believed to be a minor for sex.
The picture was posted to the Lathrop Police Department’s Facebook page.
Sheriff Withrow said Ted Howze's campaign called his office.
“They said, ‘Hey look, we don’t know this person. We don’t know why they’re wearing our shirts. We can’t control that and we’d appreciate it if you didn’t associate our brand name with that person,’” he told FOX40.
So, Withrow said his office edited the photo. It was a move he now acknowledges was a mistake.
“We’re new to this and when we make mistakes we’re going to admit them,” Withrow said. “There was no political motivation. We got to protect everybody. Our job is to stay out of that stuff as much as possible.”
He said beginning Monday, the department’s establishing a new policy. They will blur out all logos on arrest pictures to remove the implication of any political bias.
The "Ted Howze for Congress" team, the campaign behind the shirt logo, sent FOX40 a statement that reads:
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 the good work by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff Withrow, who still in his first year in the role, said the picture incident is a learning opportunity.
“I hope we don’t lose sight of the fact that we took a lot of child molesters off the street that day,” he said.