The North Miami Beach Police Department has been outed for using the mugshots of African American men during shooting practice, reported WTVJ 6.
Sgt. Valerie Deant of the Florida Army National Guard’s 13th Army Band arrived at the shooting range for annual weapons training as North Miami police officers were finishing up target practice last Saturday. Upon preparing to take the range, Deant noticed the targets that officers left behind, six profiles of African American males. One of which belonged to Deant’s brother Woody, who was arrested 15 years ago at age 18.
“I was like ‘why is my brother being used for target practice,’” said Deant. “There were like gunshots there, and I cried a couple of times.”
After finding the tasteless targets, Deant called Woody to tell him what she’d found. He then later saw the makeshift target.
“The picture actually has like bullet holes,” said Woody. “One in my forehead and one in my eye . . . . I was speechless.”
WTVJ noted that the shooting range used by officers is owned by the City of Medley and is leased to area law enforcement agencies, and the targets are self-provided by those using the range. WTVJ interviewed North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis about the incident, and this guy is a complete joke.
Dennis said that using mugshots is a common practice and that other law enforcement agencies do it, which he probably thinks makes it okay. The main reason for using actual human photos, he said, is a special technique used for “facial recognition drills.”
So, then why not just use targets with animated or computer-generated faces?
Dennis further defended the practice by saying that they have other target modules that included the faces of whites and hispanics. Separating the images by race, let alone using actual human photos, hardly seems to have much more benefit in “facial recognition” than a cartoon-drawn profile.
Dennis’ claim that the technique is widespread hardly holds up when WTVJ reported that federal, state, and five local agencies said they use commercially-produced targets instead of human photos. It turns out Dennis could be defending a group of good-ol’-boy cops who are really just out to have a laugh.
In response, instead of just using regular targets like everyone else, Dennis said his department will expand its library of human photos and ask the police to throw away targets after use.
“The use of those targets doesn’t seem correct, said retired FBI agent Alex Vasquez. “The police have different options for targets. I think the police have to be extra careful and sensitive to some issue that might be raised.”