Three Miami police officers were fired days before Christmas after making jokes about the violence in black neighborhoods. The city manager fired officers Kevin Bergnes, Miguel Valdes and Bruce Alcin after jokes they made in a WhatsApp group chat, reports Local10.
The June 30 texts show officers joking about using pre-dominantly black neighborhoods as target practice. One of the officers is black, while the other has a black grandfather.
When a fellow rookie asked where the best shooting ranges are, Bergnes told the rookie to try a Bank of America because “they’ll even give you some cash.”
He then suggested Model City, a police district that has most of the city’s shootings.
“Go to Model City. They have moving targets,” Bergnes wrote.
“There’s a range in Overtown on 1 and 11.Moving targets and they don’t charge,” another officer chimed in.
The remarks were made as the Department of Justice investigates them after police shootings.
The officers involved maintained that the comments were only jokes. Stephen Lopez, a lawyer for the officers, said that the comments have been misconstrued.
“It was in bad taste and it was an off-color remark,” Lopez said.
The Miami Fraternal Order of Police president also stepped up to defend the officers.
“The FOP doesn’t agree with the joking texts made about Northwest First Avenue and 11th Street. However, maybe the manager should be focusing on why that specific area is spoken about so often,” Javier Ortiz, the Miami FOP president, posted on Facebook.
Danny Alfonso, the city manager, stood by his decision, saying that the actions of the officers’ do not reflect the principles the city stands for.
“Comments like those made by the three probationary officers, suggesting the use of human beings for target practice, do not reflect the community policing principles we advocate. This decision was made in consultation with Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes,” he said in a statement.
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