We've had comments on several recent stories relating to booking photos, so I thought this would be an opportune moment to explain how we get them.
When someone is arrested in Ventura County, they are booked into county jail, which is under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff's Department.
When we want a booking photo, we have to contact the Sheriff's Department. They release the photo if they get permission from the arresting agency.
The story is different, however, if the person is not booked into Ventura County Jail.
For example, people commenting on our site wondered why we didn't have a booking photo of James Fayed, the Moorpark man facing trial on a charge of operating a money transmitting business without a license. He is also a suspect in the stabbing death of his estranged wife, Pamela Fayed, of Camarillo, according to the LAPD.
The simple answer there is that Fayed is in federal custody, and the feds do not release booking photos, they told my colleague who is covering the case.
Since we're on the subject of booking photos, there are two thoughts I'd like to share.
Thought #1: Booking photos are interesting because they put a face with a name, but they do little to remind us that the people arrested are innocent until proven guilty.
I'm not making any judgment about the merits of running booking photos.
Let's be honest though: Who is going to look innocent when they've just been arrested and are looking right into a camera?
These photos are taken when people are under great stress, and they're not particularly flattering.
I don't remember ever seeing anyone smile in a booking photo, and if someone did, people would likely think it is because he or she is crazy or guilty. And if they're not smiling, then people in booking photos likely look intense, resigned, menacing, frightened, or something along those lines.
As I write this, I'm asking myself, is there anything that could be in a booking photo that would make someone look innocent?
Thought #2: Booking photos are one of the many many things that remind me about the importance of vocabulary.
In the journalism business, we often refer to small photos of people's faces as "mug shots," a phrase that also seems to be associated with booking photos.
I had one particularly embarrassing moment last year when I was talking to a police officer -- from Texas, I believe -- for a story I was writing about his chief, who was speaking in our area.
In a bit of a dumb moment, I asked the officer if they had a mug shot of the chief they could share with us. Of course, I meant to ask if they had some sort of a photo of the chief they could share. He immediately gave me a resounding no, saying there were no mug shots of the chief.
For him, a mug shot meant a booking photo, so I had inadvertently asked if there was a photo of his boss being booked into jail. Oops. After a few moments of confusion, I understood my mistake and we got a photo.
But man, was my face red after that one.