Three Mi­ami of­fi­cers fired over tar­get prac­tice ‘jokes’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MI­AMI:

An in­ter­nal Mi­ami po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found three rookie of­fi­cers joked in a group chat about us­ing the city’s pri­mar­ily black neigh­bor­hoods for tar­get prac­tice, a news­pa­per re­ported yes­ter­day.

Ac­cord­ing to in­ves­ti­ga­tion doc­u­ments ob­tained by the Mi­ami Her­ald (http://hrld.us/2hxDZZp), the of­fi­cers told an in­ves­ti­ga­tor they were only jok­ing. The news­pa­per said of­fi­cers Kevin Bergnes, Miguel Valdes and Bruce Al­cin were fired two days be­fore Christ­mas. It said Al­cin is African-Amer­i­can and Valdes has a black grand­fa­ther.

The re­marks upset col­leagues and came as the de­part­ment is un­der su­per­vi­sion of the US.

De­part­ment of Jus­tice fol­low­ing a se­ries of po­lice shoot­ings. “It was sense­less, young and reck­less. It shouldn’t be tol­er­ated,” Justin Pinn, an African-Amer­i­can mem­ber of a civil­ian board tasked with mon­i­tor­ing Mi­ami’s fed­eral polic­ing agree­ment, told the pa­per. “Of­fi­cers are sup­posed to be guardians not war­riors. I don’t think what they ex­pressed re­flects the val­ues of the de­part­ment.”

At­tor­ney Stephen Lopez, who rep­re­sents the three of­fi­cers, said the re­marks were taken out of con­text and that there was no mis­con­duct. “Two of the of­fi­cers have black blood pump­ing through their veins,” he told the news­pa­per. “To say that they’re racist is out­ra­geous and lu­di­crous.” Po­lice union pres­i­dent Lt. Javier Or­tiz main­tained that the of­fi­cers should have been rep­ri­manded, not fired since their “mes­sages were in poor taste, but weren’t in any way racial.”

The in­ci­dent hap­pened June 30 as the three of­fi­cers were re­spond­ing to other rookie of­fi­cers’ ques­tions about shoot­ing ranges in a What­sApp chat they of­ten com­mu­ni­cated in, the pa­per said. Ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments ob­tained by the Her­ald, the of­fi­cers-in-train­ing shared de­part­ment in­for­ma­tion on that thread. — AP

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