While that in itself is bad enough, cops in North Miami Beach go one step further by using the photos of only African American males to aim their shots at.
The startling discovery was made by a group of National Guardsmen visiting the Medley Firearms Training Center in Medley, Florida. They saw bullet-riddled mug shots of black men at the end of a shooting range. Upon investigation, it was found out that it was the work of North Miami Beach Police snipers who had been perfecting their aim prior to National Guard troops' surprise visit.
The incident might have gone unnoticed had one of the black men targets not been Sgt. Valerie Deant's brother Woody Deant. Granted, Woody Deant has a criminal record and has served time in prison, but it doesn't give police the right to use his picture to shoot their practice shots at – even more so when he has been living a crime-free, normal life for years.
"Now I'm being used as a target?" a visibly livid Deant told NBC. "I'm not even living that life according to how they portrayed me as. I'm a father. I'm a husband. I'm a career man. I work 9-to-5."
When North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis was approached for a comment, instead of admitting his department's mistake, he defended it, saying the use of real faces helps improve snipers' facial recognition skills. He did admit that using the picture of an actual resident was wrong, but also made it clear that the officers involved in the shooting range incident will not be reprimanded.
Regarding the use of all-black photographs, the police chief claimed that similar photo collections of other ethnicities are also used by his officers. He implied it was a coincidence that National Guards walked in on a day when black men were the targets.
However, when NBC enquired at some other national agencies for verification of Dennis' claim, they found that all of them use computer-generated photos and not the real ones.
"The use of those targets doesn't seem correct," retired FBI agent Alex Vasquez said. "The police have different options for targets. I think the police have to be extra careful and sensitive to some issues that might be raised."
At a time when police officers' image is at an all-time low due to high profile racial profiling cases and fatal encounters, these Florida cops have done their profession no favor with this new controversy. This also adds weight to black people's feeling that police don't hesitate to pull the trigger when they're at the end of it instead of a white person.
And why should they have any faith in law enforcement when stories like this come to light?