Three new Miami police officers were reportedly fired for joking about using predominantly black neighborhoods as “target practice” in a group chat.
Officers Kevin Bergnes, Miguel Valdes and Bruce Alcin were reportedly fired on Dec. 23 after it was ruled that they violated department policies following an internal affairs investigation.
“Anyone know of an indoor shooting range in Miami?” one officer asked, according to the Miami Herald.
“Go to model city they have moving targets,” replied another.
“There’s a range in overtown on 1 and 11. Moving targets and they don’t charge,” added a third.
The conversation in question occurred in a groupchat on Whatsapp when a member asked about gun ranges. Throughout the discussion, officers suggested using a Bank of America and specific areas.
“It’s indicative of the casual conversations and comments that young and even more seasoned police officers are used to making without a lot of repercussions,” said Julia Dawson, a local activist.
The next day, another officer warned them that “…words can come back to bite you.” This was after a sergeant was made aware of the comments that were made.
Similar to many other places in the United States, police departments have been shown to disproportionately have negative effects on communities of color, often stemming from an overall unhealthy opinion of these citizens. The fact that new, inexperienced officers could carry such a dangerous mindset, even while joking, is further proof that this issue goes much further than “a few bad apples.”
“It was senseless, young and reckless. It shouldn’t be tolerated,” said Justin Pinn, a black member of a civilian board. “Officers are supposed to be guardians not warriors. I don’t think what they expressed reflects the values of the department.”
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