Michigan police are coming under fire after confirming they had been using images of Black men for target practice.
Farmington Hills Police Department Chief Jeff King officially apologized and promised at a city council meeting last week that the department is conducting a legal review of the matter.
Hmmm…So he’s saying that the same department that used the images of Black men as target practice will be conducting the legal review of the matter? Just let that sink in for a moment and then try to tell us that the law enforcement system isn’t corrupt.
News of what was going on behind closed doors at the police station first broke after an Boy Scouts trip to the department back in April, when a family reported photos of Black men “riddled” with bullet holes. Attorney Diane Webster-Cox spoke on the families’ behalf, explaining the following:
“These organizations and municipalities must practice radical honesty in acknowledging their negative biases and find ways to change. Otherwise, you will have even bigger discrimination cases and more lawsuits against the city of Farmington Hills, its school districts, and the police department.”
Chief King tried to downplay the racial aspect of the targets. He said the images used were consistent with the standards of the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement, and were intended to “represent a mix of both threat and non-threat targets.” He explained why there are photos of people at all, saying:
“The difference between a threat assessment target and a silhouette target is threat assessment targets allow you to identify if a threat is there. A silhouette target is only for target acquisition. Our targets consist of a mix of genders and races and are shown holding a variety of items.”
He then added that 85% of the targets are Caucasian and 15% are Black. But Black targets full of bullet holes is NOT a good look in context.
In a study done by the Washington Post, police shot and killed at least 1,020 people in the United States in 2020, 243 of which being Black and 459 being Caucasian. While 459 is the larger number, proportionally it’s WAY smaller. Essentially Black people are over TWICE as likely to be shot and killed by police.
So yeah, images of police filling Black men full of holes for practice? Not helping.
The chief actually seemed to boast about the diversity of the community in his apology, saying:
“We have a diverse community. Our community, as well as our department is diverse, inclusive, and that doesn’t stop at our training.”
He’s really going to talk about the diverse community while explaining the demographics of his targets? What is he trying to say, police kill all kinds of people here??
He at least nominally took responsibility for the way in which the training was being executed, saying:
“I’ll take this one on the chin, I apologize to each and every person in this room, this community, my department, my city council, my city manager. I can’t overlook this, but I promise you this, this will make us stronger, this will make us better, this will make us more transparent and this community overall will come out better for this.”
What’s that one Rihanna lyric? Oh yeah… “I know you’re only sorry you got caught.” He added that he will share the findings of the legal review “as soon as possible.” Something tells us the department is going to find that the department was doing everything fine.
Police Chief Jeff concluded his statement by assuring the public that any future citizen visits will include a full explanation of their target practice process, and apologized to the Boy Scouts group for not fully explaining it.
What do you think of the Michigan police department target practice scandal? Is it indicative of the larger issue of racial inequality in the United States? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Images via WXYZ-TV Detroit Channel 7/YouTube]