Evanston Police Chief Demitrous Cook, at a news conference this morning, apologized for accidentally posting to the social media app Snapchat images of about 30 people who were under suspicion in a criminal investigation.
Cook said he was introduced to the app at a recent community meeting and thought it took excellent photos, so when he was reviewing some investigative files around 6 p.m. Monday he snapped about 80 images from the files — thinking he was saving them only to his cell phone.
But instead, Cook says, they actually were posted publicly on the Snapchat app, where one or more people who knew of his account started distributing them more widely on social media.
The chief says another member of the police department alerted him to the mistake within about an hour, but by the time they were able to remove the photos a few minutes later, the images were already being distributed online.
Cook said he had planned to consult the stored images while reviewing the files about the investigation at home later that night.
“These photos should never have been posted publicly,” Cook said. “As soon as I found out the mistake I immediately removed the photos.”
He says he reached out to those whose images were posted and their families and “have personally apologized to them and to members of the community who are rightfully upset.”
“I own this mistake and I want to apologize to the community and to anyone who who may have been impacted,” Cook added. “It was never my intention to cause any harm or pain.”
Some people who attended the news conference said they had relatives whose photos had been posted.
A woman complained that her son’s juvenile record had been expunged — but now his photo was being spread on the internet.
A man who addressed the chief during the news conference.
An older man said he was also a relative of one of the people whose photos were released. “You made a mistake,” he said, “But I don’t see why we can’t forgive you for making one simple mistake.”