North Miami Beach Mayor George Vallejo called the practice of using mugshots for target training “offensive and unacceptable” in a statement released Monday.
The statement comes after the city’s police department was roundly criticized for using mugshots of African American men for sniper training. Valerie Deant, a sergeant with the Florida Army National Guard, found her brother’s mugshot in the garbage at the Medley shooting range last month. The Guard followed the North Miami Beach police unit at the range.
Deant brought the matter to the department’s attention.
In response, North Miami Beach police chief J. Scott Dennis suspended the sniper training program and called for review of the practice.
On Monday, Vallejo said he wanted to permanently ban this type of training. North Miami Beach has a council-manager form of government; the mayor would need support from his fellow council members to enact any ordinance.
“North Miami Beach is better than this,” he said in the statement. “We are a richly diverse city, a fact our residents are very proud of, and as Mayor I will not allow anything to disrupt the harmony and goodwill that exists in our community.”
The police department also reacted Monday, after Deant‘s family spoke to reporters Sunday.
“We regret that this one incident could have set back the progress we have made,” the statement said. “We will strive to be more sensitive to all and remain focused on being a community-mindful police department. We see this challenge as an opportunity to examine all policies within our police department.”