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Tipsheet

Did You Catch the Fake News VICE Peddled About the Shooting Targets Police Use for Training?

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Just read the headline: "Police Department Used Images of Black Men Holding Guns as Target Practice." You'd think that this was something out of Apartheid South Africa. It surely reinforced the anti-police narrative the left has adopted since 2020. You can already hear these people pounce on this one.

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"Cops are racist—just look at the targets they use." 

The problem is, it's not really a true story. The targets were found by some Boy Scouts outside of Detroit. The targets show black men armed and looking menacing. You can almost fill in the blanks on this one (via VICE News): 

A police department just outside of Detroit uses images of Black men in hoodies and backwards caps holding guns as shooting practice targets, a group of Boy Scouts discovered.

The troop spotted the targets, some of them pierced with bullet holes, when it was touring the headquarters of Farmington Hills Police Department in April.

[…]

An unidentified person who attended the visit, represented by attorney Dionne Webster-Cox, first reported the use of the images.

“When those children were exposed to those images, to me it was the potential detrimental effects on how they view Black men and Black people that was indescribable,” Webster-Cox told VICE News. “It’s literally profiling for the Black man. You've got young police officers and this is what they're being trained on?”

The targets, which have since been removed, are now the subject of a legal review, Mayor Vicki Barnett said at a public city council meeting on Monday.

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The police chief, Jeff King, apologized for the targets but also said there's missing context. Here's where the buried lede comes in: 

“A diverse group of targets were on display the day of the tour—not just targets featuring Black people,” King said. “Unfortunately, this was not accurately depicted in the photographs, as the photographs only depict a small area of the department’s firing range and a select number of the targets that were presented and discussed during the group tour.”

[…]

He said the department uses images of a dozen different people, 10 of whom are white and two Black, in line with Michigan’s Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, as well as the city’s demographics. (Farmington Hills is 18.5 percent Black and 62 percent white, according to the 2020 U.S. census.)

Assistant Chief Jon Piggott told VICE News that officers normally train on silhouettes and bull’s eyes when measuring accuracy, and only use images of people once they start training officers on threat assessment. While the default targets are all holding guns, their hands can be swapped out to hold a beer can, a cellphone, or nothing at all.

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This isn't a story. It's a gasoline can filled to the brim with fake news, which we all know is highly flammable. You could see what they were trying to stoke here. The racist police system uses black men as targets when that's not the case. Chief King should not have apologized. He should have clarified this portion of police training and the targets used. An apology does nothing to quell the left-wing mob and sacrifices the high ground he had here. There's nothing problematic about diverse targets holding weapons and the like regarding shooting practice. Of course, this part is buried way down in the story and undercuts the headline.

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