A passionate council meeting in North Miami Beach Tuesday ended with a new ban and an apology from the chief of police after an NBC 6 investigation exposed the usage of real people’s mug shots for target practice by North Miami Beach Police.
NBC 6’s investigation showed mug shots of six African American men riddled with bullets. They had been used by the North Miami Beach Police Department for weapons training for snipers. The North Miami Beach Police Department officially changed the policy of using mug shots for target practice on Monday.
Tuesday night, the North Miami Beach city council officially banned the use of pictures of real people during target practice. The ordinance passed by a vote of 5-1.
“It’s real sad. I’ll be back here if you kill my son,” said Lisa Kelly, mother of one of the men in the target.
North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis said previously the photos were only used for snipers, not for any training in other departments. He also said that department used photos of Latinos and Caucasians. NBC 6 checked with several departments across the state, and with state and federal agencies, and could find no agency that uses photos for weapons training.
While the ban on the use of mugshots as targets was passed, many demanded more, including the resignation of Chief Dennis. Residents held up a poster with Chief Dennis’ picture on it with bullet holes in it as a protest at the meeting. A resignation wasn’t in the offering tonight, but Chief Dennis did apologize to NBC 6.
“The entire issue was poor judgment. I’m sorry that the families lived through that. I saw what it looked like to have my face shot up in the picture. But that’s not what caused this,” Chief Dennis said.
In addition to the ban contained in the new ordinance, the city called for an independent investigation into the police actions. The council also discussed creating a Citizens Review Board to meet monthly and review policies, but no action was taken on a potential CRB.