County police are aiming for enclosed firing range Department seeks almost $1 million to build new facility

January 31, 1996|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,SUN STAFF

Hoping to be a better neighbor and give its officers a more modern place to practice, the county Police Department is asking for nearly $1 million to build an enclosed firing range at its Davidsonville training academy.

Department administrators are expected to make their request tomorrow during a capital budget presentation to the Planning Advisory Board.

Officials would not discuss the proposed $926,000 firing range, but documents submitted with the request by Police Chief Robert A. Beck call for a partially enclosed 19,000- to 25,000-square foot structure. The building would have a bulletproof roof and trap behind the targets, a bulletproof control booth and a moving-target system. As many as 20 officers could practice at one time.

The new facility would address the department's two key concerns about the current open-air range: bullets ricocheting into the nearby residential area, and practice time lost to bad weather.

"The facility should guarantee no rounds escaping," Chief Beck wrote in his request. "The range will reduce but not totally eliminate operational downtime. There would also be a reduction in the levels of loud and disruptive sound."

Police officials noted that activities at the current range have to be delayed during heavy rains, snow and particularly cold weather. Even heavy mud at the firing stations can hinder officers.

"One of the primary reasons why they need the facility is to be able to do training when they need to and not schedule it around the weather," said Ray Elwell, a budget analyst for the county.

Police of-ficials also noted that stray bullets have occasionally escaped the range.

Although no one has been hurt, residents have reported finding spent bullets on their properties.

In June 1992, a stray bullet landed in the pool of a home about 800 yards from the range. The bullet matched the type used by security officers who were target-shooting at the time.

The new range would include moving targets. Officers now practice on a jury-rigged system, but "it's not a facility that was built for that purpose," Mr. Ewell said.

Police have lobbied for a new firing range for several years. In 1993, the department requested $3.16 million for an indoor range, but the request was denied.

Other items in the Police Department's $1.45 million budget request are $268,000 for an addition to the Northern District station; $40,000 to plan an addition to the Western District station; and $220,000 for repairs throughout the department, including improvements in the evidence collection unit at headquarters and repaving of the parking lot at the Eastern District station.

Other departments scheduled to make capital budget presentations Thursday are Human Services, Health, Planning and Code Enforcement, Public Works and Highways, and Central Services and Fleet Management.

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