NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - A Florida police department has suspended its sniper training program in response to outrage over mug shots of black men being used as targets at a shooting range.
The Miami Herald reports that North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis said late Friday that his department realizes the images may appear to be offensive when viewed apart from other targets used for sniper training, including images of Osama Bin Laden and a man holding a gun to a woman's head.
Dennis says the program's training materials are being reviewed, and commercially produced training images will be ordered.
The story was first reported by WTVJ-TV after Valerie Deant, a Florida Army National Guard sergeant, discovered her brother Woody Deant's image among the mug shots discarded at a Medley shooting range. The image was taken in 2000 after Woody Deant's arrest in connection with a drag race that left two people dead.
"I do not deserve to be a target for sport, as a training exercise, or for any reason or neither does anyone else," Woody Deant said at a news conference Monday. "I've had to live and relive seeing a bullet in my forehead and a bullet through my eye at the hands of the North Miami Police Department."
North Miami Police Chief Scott Dennis has said the issue is not race-related, according to CBS Miami.
"There was not mal-intent or prejudice involved," he said, adding, "There is no North Miami Beach PD policy violation or discipline forthcoming. There is no law that was broken. There is no FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) standard that was violated. However, we can always improve, and will."