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Off Target

Valerie Deant, a sergeant with the Florida Army National Guard, went with several other guardsmen to a city-run gun range in Medley, Fla., for target practice. The North Miami Beach police sniper team was just finishing up their own training, and Deant was surprised at what they had been using for targets. “I was like, ‘why is my brother being used for target practice?’,” she said. The officers’ leavings included her brother Woody’s mug shot. He was arrested as a teen, but has since turned his life around. That photo, along with several others, were punctured by bullets. Every one of the mug shots depicted black men. “We have other targets, too,” offered police spokeswoman Maj. Kathy Katerman. “We don’t just shoot at black males.” Chief J. Scott Dennis said mug shots are “widely used” as targets by other departments, but it’s actually rare for police to use photos of real people. Woody Deant says using real people in training creates bad associations in officers’ minds. When they see the person on the street, “automatically in his mind he’s going to think target, target, target....” Dennis denied his department has “a racial issue,” noting the sniper team includes minorities, but he still “immediately suspended the sniper training program as we conduct a thorough review of our training process and materials.” (RC/Miami Herald, WTVJ Miami) ...“I told you guys to use photos of reporters!”
Original Publication Date: 08 February 2015
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 21.

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