'Concerning' app found on Metro police phones

Several Metro Police officers have access to an app named Wickr, which allows them to delete messages on a timer that can't be retrieved. (WSMV)

If we didn't have open records, we wouldn't know about former Sgt. Rob Forrest taking the nude photos that contributed to former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry's resignation.

If we didn't have open records, we wouldn't have a copy of the investigative report that explained what happened when officer Josh Lippert shot and killed Jacques Clemmons.

Deborah Fisher works every day so you know what your government is up to.

"People have a right to know what their government is doing and public records are a way to do that," said Fisher, Executive Director, Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.

News 4 has learned some in Metro government have an app designed to destroy records called Wickr.

Here's how it works: you type a message, then set a timer. When the time is up, the message literally disappears, and even some of the most skilled computer forensic experts, like Bruce McCully of Dynamic Edge, said, they won’t ever be able to get it back.

"I think this app could cause some serious problems, especially when we have situations where we are already considering text messages to be public record, this is obfuscating that information and making it unavailable to look at to where it's no longer public record," said McCully.

In fact, it's because of an open records request, we can tell you: 161 top ranking Metro police officers have Wickr on their work cell phones.

The IT department installed it for them so they could communicate securely.

So have they ever used it to discuss an investigation? Or anything work related? We'll never know.

"It's like a paper shredder shredded that message," said McCully.

Metro Police point out they've communicated for years without documentation.

They had Nextel phones with a walkie-talkie feature then upgraded to blackberries that had password protected messaging.

Wickr, they said, is a modern-day version of that.

A spokesperson for the department also told News 4 that while their officials have Wickr on their phones, they don't use it.

"If they don't use it, they should probably just take it off their phone," said Fisher.

Metro Police spokesman Don Arron told News 4 the police department does not plan to remove the app from their phones.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.



Carley Gordon joined the News4 team as a reporter in 2009.

Recommended for you