Pinellas Sheriff's Office says goodbye to mugshots on website - FOX 13 News

Pinellas Sheriff's Office says goodbye to mugshots on website

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Pinellas (FOX 13) -

A quick Google search for mugshots, and the first hit is the website mugshots.com.

It's a site that compiles booking photos from across the country.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said he doesn't like it, or other similar sites.

"This just galls me," said Sheriff Gualtieri.

Here's what makes the sheriff so angry.

If a person's charges are dropped, or their case thrown out, their mugshot is removed from the county's jail website.

But to get it removed from sites like mugshots.com?

Sheriff Gualtieri said it could cost anywhere from $400 to $1800.

"It's ridiculous. It's every word you can think of. It's atrocious. It's extortion," said Gualtieri.

Gualtieri ordered all mugshots removed from the Pinellas County Jail's website starting next week.

"Those entities that have a legitimate need for access, then we'll grant that," he said.

That includes law enforcement, attorneys and media.

But companies that compile mugshots into one website will be charged.

"What the sheriff is trying to do is well-intentioned. It just doesn't fit with Florida Open Records Law," said Al Tompkins from the Poynter Institute.

Al Tompkins, an open records advocate, isn't sure the sheriff's plan would hold up in court.

"You can't just close the records to a certain group of people without closing them to everybody," said Tompkins.

But Tampa attorney Anthony Rickman doesn't see it that way.

"I think the sheriff is taking a step in the right direction," said Rickman.

Rickman hopes more agencies follow suit.

"The problem that I've had with my clients is that they pay these companies these fees and then two, three weeks later another company pops up," said Rickman.

Sheriff Gualtieri is hoping his action sends a message to those companies.

"I'm tired of it. And I'm not going to see people be treated that way," said the sheriff.

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