Police in Zhenxiong, China’s Yunnan province recently apologized after being ridiculed online for using a 17-year-old suspected criminal’s childhood photo for a wanted poster, because they couldn’t find a more recent one.
Look at those chubby cheeks! Does this look like the face of someone who could commit gang crimes and other violent offences? Well, technically, yes.
You see, the photo below is of Ji Qinghai, a dangerous alleged criminal who has been successfully avoiding police for a long time. He’s also just a pre-schooler in this picture, which makes things a bit confusing. He’s actually 17 now, but police couldn’t find any recent photos of him, so they just decided to go with one of him as an adorable kid.
The Public Security Bureau of Zhenxiong County posted the hilarious wanted notice for Ji Qinghai on its website, on March 19. The picture of a preschooler among those of hardened criminals stood out like a sore thumb, so people started sharing it on social media and ridiculing police.
On the morning of March 20th, Zhenxiong police put out a statement apologizing for the use of the suspect’s childhood photo despite him being nearly an adult now. They tried to explain that they just couldn’t find any recent photos of the suspect and thought that his facial features from when he was a preschooler could still be recognizable today.
The explanation apparently made things even worse, and on March 21, police decided to take down the photo as a result of the backlash. Only by then, they already had other problems.
After the photo of Ji Qinghai went viral on WeChat and Weibo, China’s most popular social networks, people started scouring through the wanted notices posted by Zhenxiong police, and found two other childhood photos used for the notices of other much older alleged criminals.
This time, police just took those photos down as well and didn’t even try offering an explanation. They simply apologized for their mistake, saying that they had learned their lesson and promising to do everything in their power to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again.