Three rookie police officers in Miami were fired earlier this month after they posted “jokes” about shooting “moving targets” for practice in a predominantly black neighborhood.
The Miami Herald reports that the three rookies — Officers Kevin Bergnes, Miguel Valdes and Bruce Alcin — were fired just before Christmas after an internal review found they inappropriately “joked” about shooting civilians in the neighborhoods of Model City and Overtown during an online group chat over WhatsApp.
“Anyone know of an indoor shooting range in Miami?” one officer asked.
“Go to model city they have moving targets,” another replied.
“There’s a range in overtown on 1 and 11. Moving targets and they don’t charge,” replied a third officer.
The officers all said they were simply joking, and the Miami Herald reports that Officer Alcin himself is black. Nonetheless, at a time when police shootings of unarmed black people have come under intense scrutiny, the Miami Police Department didn’t feel that such “humor” should be tolerated, as many in the community didn’t think there was anything funny about it.
“It was senseless, young and reckless,” Justin Pinn, a black member of the civilian board that oversees Miami’s compliance with a federal policing agreement. “It shouldn’t be tolerated. Officers are supposed to be guardians not warriors. I don’t think what they expressed reflects the values of the department.”