Chief: range will cut costs
A recently approved shooting range for the Green River Police Department will help cut future costs associated with overtime and travel, according to Police Chief Chris Steffen.
Last week, the Green River City Council voted to approve a $550,000 bid to build the range in the building’s basement. At this time, there isn’t a set date for the range’s completion. Steffen said the city is finalizing the contract with the contractor and guesses the pieces for the range won’t be manufactured until spring.
Steffen said he recognizes the range isn’t a needed tool, though he says the range will help cut costs for officers’ range time and qualifications. While the department does have a private shooting range located near the landfill, the indoor range eliminates a number of issues involved with its use. Steffen said the outdoor range at the landfill does pose problems when weather turns icy and with response time to an emergency due to its location -- issues that are negated with an indoor range. Additionally, the indoor range also helps with scheduling a range day for working officers, which should cut overtime for officers off-duty during a scheduled range day.
Steffen said he’s received comments about opening the range to residents for their use, and while limited use will be available when the department hosts handgun safety classes, the range won’t be open for general use. One of the major reasons for that decision is the armor used to catch bullets can’t withstand rounds fired by high-powered rifles. Another reason is the department can’t afford to have a range manager oversee the range for public use due to the computer software needed to operate the range. Additionally, public use of the department’s firing range does place a tremendous liability on the city as an accident at the range would occur inside a city building, as opposed to the outdoor range near FMC Park, where the city doesn’t face the same liability questions.
One of the largest misconceptions Steffen said he has heard through residents’ comments is the range will operate similar to the city’s outdoor range. Steffen said the training needed to certify officers to carry their handguns differs greatly from usage involving a hunter adjusting the sights on his firearms.
“We’re not just out there punching holes in a target,” Steffen said.
Steffen said the range has always been part of the building plan, but admits it should never have been cut out of the initial construction plan.
He said the space could have been augmented for other uses, but would require sprinkler changes and additional review by the fire marshal’s office as the space was always designated as a shooting range.