Chief Demitrous Cook’s Improper Social Media Use

On Tuesday, February 18,  Citizens Network of Protection learned that Evanston Police Chief Demitrous Cook posted out-of-date Evanston Police booking photographs of living and deceased residents to the public page of his personal snapchat account. 

This is a type of public shaming of residents who may only have been charged with but not convicted of a crime and is an abuse of community trust to imply guilt before trial.   This publication also included a juvenile whose conviction has been expunged.

When we reached out to the Evanston Police department earlier this week to ask if they have a social media policy, they said no. When we asked if they follow the United States Department of Justice national guidelines on social media use, they said no.

Today, Police Chief Demitrous Cook held a press conference to explain why he posted these photos on a public forum and to apologize for his actions. (The names and faces below were blurred by Citizens Network of Protection, not by Evanston Police Department/Chief Cook).

While we respect his attempt to bring some transparency to the matter the City did not post the event on its website or social media accounts and therefore the public was not aware of this press conference and we could not participate. 

We are particularly concerned with his claim that “this was done so he could capture a high-resolution image of these photos for his own personal research into these cases.” He incorrectly claimed that “Snapchat takes higher-resolution photos than his own smartphone’s camera.” Actually, Snapchat photo quality is significantly lower than the smartphone’s native camera app. A quick Google search will show you that this is common knowledge. 

We disagree with this assessment and question Chief Cook’s explanation of how and why the photos ended up posted on Snapchat.

In addition to answering these questions about this post by Chief Cook, the Evanston Police Department clearly needs to develop a strong social media policy and train its members. 

-CNP Board



Why am I committed to the mission of the Citizens Network of Protection?

Austin Spillar

It was the fall of 2015 when I first met CNP co-founder and president, Betty Ester. She had contacted the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where I was a 2L at the time, in an effort to find a law student to assist CNP with improving police accountability, oversight, and transparency in Evanston.  The Public Interest Director at Loyola informed me that Betty wanted to have a meeting. I eagerly agreed because I had already had experience working in law firms handling police misconduct cases involving the Chicago PD and I wanted to dedicate as much time as possible to helping people that have been harmed by police.
I did not fully understand the problems facing black and brown communities in Evanston until I met Betty. I quickly learned how the Evanston Police Department and the City of Evanston has had so many of the same problems of police misconduct, lawsuits, racial inequality, and inadequate civilian oversight as what I knew to be true in cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and New York. The closer I started to look, it became evident that there was a dark side to the Evanston PD. 

I am proud to do this work with CNP because we are working towards bringing about systemic change. I firmly believe that the power and authority that the police have belongs to the people. CNP helps people recognize that power, fights tirelessly to help people who have been harmed by police, and is dedicated to re-imagining the role that police play in our everyday lives.   


The Curfew Hurt

A frantic lady screening from the porch

“The police are taking my son to jail, 

he was only twenty  (20) steps 

from his home.” She called me, shouting,

“I am in the bathroom at the police station. 

They are trying to come into the bathroom.” 

 Shout out that you are talking to your lawyer.

The lady went home with her son and 

a station adjustment.

It hurt me to see the young kids not allowed

to wait for their ride in from of the theatre. 

But march to the corner of Maple and Church

street and standing in a huddle like cows. 

Seeing this and heard that Black kids

are picked up by the EDP all of the time 

breaking the curfew when their parents are 

10 minute late and they tell the police

they are on their way. 

They had to go to the EPD station and

sing a station adjustment.

That is why  I got involved with the Citizens’ Network of Protection. 

By Betty Ester



Question and Answer with CNP Board Member Elizabeth Meadows

Why you think Evanston needs Citizens Network of Protection?

Elizabeth Meadows

There is police misconduct, ranging from harassment to the killing of people, in places all over the U.S. Evanston is no exception. This fact is, in my experience, less widely understood by white people than by Black people in Evanston. The CNP works to raise awareness of police misconduct in Evanston in order to help people work towards decreasing the amount of police misconduct in Evanston.

In addition, in many places in the U.S., including in Evanston,  there are difficulties, and sometimes actual obstacles, in the way of people filing complaints when they are the victims of police misconduct. Help is needed and CNP provides help to Evanston residents who are aged 23 and older in filing such complaints.  (Other organizations exist to help younger people.)

Part of the help that CNP provides is educating people about their rights. For example, what are a person’s rights when encountered by the police? For individuals in Evanston to know their rights  is important for improving the relations between the police and everyone in Evanston, given that the police here are supposed to serve and protect every single person in Evanston. The CNP works towards the realization of that role for police.

Why does the Evanston Police department need to reform it’s nuisance citation policy?

I recently learned about the city and state nuisance policies at a CNP educational forum. I am extremely concerned that homeowners can and do lose their homes due to citations under this ordinance. Nuisance citations can arise when neighbors dislike neighbors and want them gone from their neighborhood. This is wrong and CNP is needed to help make this right. CNP focuses on police accountability, police transparency, and community oversight of the police. Evanston residents need to know their rights when police confront them with an alleged nuisance citation. CNP helps with this community education.

Thank you for reading my thoughts. encourage  you as residents in Evanston to become engaged in conversation about these two topics. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Elizabeth Meadows – CNP Board Member


The Vote on Rochester Police Accountability Board

The Rochester police Accountability Board, like the Citizens Network of Protection, would have the power to investigate civilian complaints independently.  They both have subpoena power for getting information for their investigations.  They will determine whether individual officers have committed misconduct.  
The citizens of Rochester by referendum put in place their Police Accountability Board.  CNP is asking you the citizens of Evanston to do the same thing in voting to created the Evanston Board of Police Oversight, Accountability, and Transparency.  CNP’s proposal goes further than the Rochester Police Accountability Board in that it would be an independent agency with no connection to the Police Department or the City Government. 
The Rochester citizens put in place a board that will oversee the police conduct as they engage with the citizens.   The citizens in Evanston can do the same for their citizens that need assistance to fight the system.
  The unofficial voting results indicated that the referendum on the proposed board passed by more than a 3-to-1 margin: 75 to 25 percent. Nearly 17,800 voters approved the measure, while nearly 6,600 voters voted against it.  


Call to action on 79-O-19 ORDINANCE “Citizen Police Review Commission”

The Citizens’ Network of Protection asks you to read the attached documents.  After reading them, we ask you to take a stand as to what your voice will be loud or silent.  

If you agree with CNP and want to make a loud noise, call, write the City Council urging them to vote NO on Ordinance 79-O-19.   The only way that we can convince the Council to vote NO is to speak loud as one voice. Thank you for your effort in supporting this campaign to defeat  Ordinance 79-O-19, which does not serve the citizens. 
Betty Ester, President, Citizens’ Network of Protect


Our Trouble with Citizen Police Review Commission Ordinance 79-0-19

The Evanston City Council will vote on October 28th on ordinance to create the Citizen Police Review Commission. If this ordinance passes, it will mean that the systems of police accountability will be unchanged from the way things are today. It is lacking the power and scope of responsibilities necessary to provide meaning oversight, accountability, and transparency of the Evanston Police Department. This ordinance lacks community empowerment. The Commission does not have subpoena power and the Police Chief isn’t even required to give an explanation if they disagree with a finding or recommendation of the Commission. Despite a mayoral appointed task force that found that many people in Evanston do not know about the complaint process, this ordinance does not require the Commission to do community outreach to inform people about the complaint process or to discuss issues that are driving a wedge between the community and police. The charts below highlight the major errors we believe the Evanston city council is making if they pass the ordinance as written.

Download the PDF here


EPD’s dashboard program aims for transparency, falls short in demographic representation

In an effort to increase police transparency, the Evanston Police Department recently launched a police dashboard program that displays data on police activity and categorizes incidents by race. However, demographic categorizations of people marked as “Hispanic” coming into contact with police are causing concerns with the accuracy of the data.

The data range from pat downs, which are categorized by race, to use of force, categorized by type. Evanston police Cmdr. Ryan Glew said the objective of the dashboard program is to create a level of transparency for the police department’s “day-in and day-out activities.”

“We want the community to trust what we say,” Glew said. “We want to give ourselves credibility in the community.”

A May 27 statement from the Citizens’ Network of Protection — a group dedicated to police reform and civilian oversight — echoed these concerns. The statement claimed the demographic data is incorrect and the organization is hoping to receive the correct numbers for black, white, Hispanic, Asian and other non-white arrests, citations and street stops.

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Man wrongfully convicted of murder sues Evanston police, alleging ‘coercion, threats, fabrication and misrepresentation

Jesús Sánchez, who was wrongfully convicted and served over four years in prison for murder, filed a lawsuit April 10 against the Evanston Police Department and two of its officers.

According to the suit, the two EPD detectives, Joe Bush and Phil Levy, used “coercion, threats, fabrication and misrepresentation” to force a false confession out of Sánchez and other witnesses. The complaint accuses the police departments of Wheeling, Wilmette, Skokie and Lincolnwood as well. Sánchez’s conviction was reversed in April 2018 by the Illinois Appellate Court.

In November 2014, Sánchez, then 18 years old, was convicted for the murder of Rafael Orozco. Orozco was killed in May 2013, outside a Wheeling apartment complex. Sánchez was in the vicinity and heard the shots, according to the suit. After the incident, Sánchez and the people he was with tried to get to his car, which was parked near the location of the murder.

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Evanston officially settles lawsuit for $1.25 million with Lawrence Crosby, Northwestern Student arrested for allegedly stealing his own car

Evanston aldermen on Monday agreed to pay a former Northwestern University doctoral student, Lawrence Crosby, $1.25 million to settle a lawsuit filed against the city and four police officers after he was arrested for allegedly stealing his own car.

The settlement between the city and Lawrence Crosby was passed as part of the consent agenda with an 8-0 vote. Ald. Cicely Fleming, 9th, was absent.

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