A south Florida police department have been criticised after it was found to be using photographs of black males for target practice.

The North Miami Beach Police department has denied any racial profiling by using the mugshots of real people for target practice but conceded its officers could have used "better judgment".

The controversy began after a Florida National Guard arrived at the shooting range for training and recognised a photo of her brother was being used as a target, reported NBC.

Valerie Deant said she was "devastated" when seeing the image of her brother, Woody, taken after he was arrested in 2000 after being involved in a drag race that left two people dead. He was later jailed for four years but insisted he turned his life around following his release.

"Now I'm being used as a target?" Deant told NBC. "I'm not even living that life according to how they portrayed me as. I'm a father. I'm a husband. I'm a career man. I work 9-to-5."

The mugshot, which had a bullet hole through the eye and forehead, was one of five photographs of black males the officers were using to practice their shooting on.

North Miami police chief J Scott Dennis defended the use of real-life photographs for target practice, claiming they were essential for facial recognition exercises. He said the department uses an "array" of images of from all races during target practice.

"Our policies were not violated," he said. "There is no discipline forthcoming from the individuals who were involved with this."

But Dennis admitted he was "very, very concerned" that Deant's photo was among the targets as he was someone who "would be on the streets of North Miami Beach".

Deant's lawyer, Andell Brown, said his client being used as a target practice has the potential to create a "very dangerous situation".

Brown said: "[If] it has been ingrained in your subconscious, what does that mean when [police] come across Woody or another person on the street and their decision-making process on using deadly force or not."

Deant added: "Automatically in his [police officer] mind he's going to think target, target, target..."