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North Miami Beach police stop using mug shots for target practice

Police chief says family's outrage prompts policy change

This old mug shot of Woody Deant was being used by North Miami Beach police for target practice.
This old mug shot of Woody Deant was being used by North Miami Beach police for target practice.

NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The North Miami Beach Police Department said Monday it would no longer use arrest photos as targets for training.

North Miami Police Beach Chief Scott Dennis announced the new policy Monday after the family of a man arrested years ago expressed outrage that his mug shot was being used for target practice.

"I've had to live and relive seeing a bullet through my forehead and a bullet through my eye at the hands of the North Miami Beach Police Department," Woody Deant said at a news conference Monday morning outside City Hall.

Valerie Deant said she was at a gun range in Medley for National Guard weapons training in early December when she saw an old picture of her brother with bullet holes in it.

It turns out North Miami Beach police officers had used a photo lineup of half-a-dozen men arrested as many as 15 years ago as part of the North Miami Beach Police Department's sniper training program.

"I am not a mug shot," Woody Deant said. "I am not the tragic mistakes I made 14 years ago that costs the lives of my friends and my clean record and my freedom. I do not deserve to be a target for sport as a training exercise."

Dennis said his department has taken immediate action to put an end to it.

"We are mindful that perceptions are often as important as reality," Dennis said. "When this facial recognition sniper shooting drill was brought to our attention, we immediately told the family that it would stop. We kept our word, and it has. It is no longer a practice of the North Miami Beach Police Department. This sort of mug shot drill has been suspended indefinitely and ceases to exist as part of our training. A policy change has been initiated and the new procedure will be that no one will be shooting photographic images in the future."

The North Miami Beach Police Department will now purchase mug shots from commercial vendors.

"As a taxpayer and resident, I should be confident in my police department (that it) is there to serve the community and not target me," Woody Deant said.

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