Target: J. Scott Dennis, North Miami Beach Police Chief
Goal: Fire the police officers who used mugshots of black men for target practice.
The North Miami Beach Police Department has come under fire after it reportedly admitted to using mugshots of African American men as targets during recent gun training. The department’s chief, J. Scott Dennis, has defended the practice. Demand that the department immediately discontinue this practice and fire the officers who engaged in it.
Florida National Guard Sergeant Valerie Deant was disturbed after she arrived at a North Miami Beach shooting range that the local police lease out for training to find a mugshot of her brother, as well as those of five other men of color, riddled with bullet holes. When confronted with the evidence, police chief J. Scott Dennis conceded that officers could have used “better judgment” in selecting their targets. He allegedly defended the practice of shooting at mugshots of actual people, however, saying that it was common practice and that it was not racist because sometimes they use mugshots of white people and because there are officers of color on the department’s sniper team. A cursory review of other law enforcement offices conducted by local news teams found that, actually, such practices were not common and that federal and local departments normally use commercially-produced targets.
Dennis has stated that the officers involved in this incident will not face discipline from the department. Demand that he end this practice and hold his officers accountable for their actions by firing them without delay.
Dear Police Chief Dennis,
I am writing you today about the revelations that have recently come to light regarding your department’s gun training targets. Your reaction to the public outcry has underscored just how out of touch police departments are.
The fact that you cannot see how horrible it is to use mug shots of actual human beings, especially of African American men, a demographic that is subjected to police violence with unspeakable frequency, is scary. What is even scarier, however, is that you refuse to hold the officers allegedly responsible for this recent instance accountable. Woody Deant, one of the African American men whose face your officers were shooting, has stated that he is worried to encounter any of these police officers out in his community now because they already trained to shoot him. How is that acceptable? How many other members of the community you are supposed to be protecting have your officers shot in the face for the sake of “training”?
Communities of color, especially black communities, have been telling you for decades that they do not feel safe around police. Well, the evidence for that feeling is right here, but you refuse to see it. I demand that you end this gun training practice immediately, and fire the officers involved in this most recent incident.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Andreas Meck via Wikimedia Commons