Kane sheriff shooting for new gun range
By Matt Brennan For The Beacon-News February 22, 2013 12:38PM
Updated: March 25, 2013 6:41AM
There are 242 officers who need to qualify for firearms usage within the Kane County Sheriff’s Department.
Up until two weeks ago, the department was able to use the gun range at the old jail site on Fabyan Parkway. But because of inclement weather, the range is under 18 inches of lead- and mold-infested water, and is no longer safe. Sheriff Pat Perez addressed the County Board Judicial and Public Safety Committee on Friday about the need for a new gun range for the Sheriff’s Department.
“It’s a long-term commitment the county has to make to benefit the sheriff’s office,” Perez said.
Perez pulled a resolution off the committee agenda that would start the process on architectural plans for a site to be located adjacent to the current jail building on Route 38. He did so in order to better educate committee members on the immediate need for the project.
The architectural design is the first step in the construction process, and comes with a $30,000 price tag. It’s not known what the entire project might cost until this step is completed, Perez said.
It could take several years to see the project completed. Perez has a year-and-a-half left on his term, and does not plan to seek re-election. The project will likely be wrapped up under whoever follows him in office.
Once the weather improves, officers can do some shooting in county-owned gravel pits along Seavey Road in rural Kane County. It’s not an ideal solution for the problem, because they would be limited by weather and time.
If the county determines they want to use someone else’s facility on a permanent basis, Lt. Ronald Gromes said there would be overtime and scheduling issues that could make it difficult to keep all 242 officers qualified. Overtime costs to keep officers qualified could reach $15,000 to $20,000 per year.
The County Board will ultimately make the decision on whether to invest thousands of dollars on repairs into an older building that will soon be demolished.
“Do we really want to spend good money on a building that’s going to be hit by a wrecking ball anyway?” Perez asked.
Judicial and Public Safety Committee Chairman Barb Wojnicki, R-St. Charles, suggested that the sheriff’s office begin using non-lead-based bullets in their training in order to remove the source of contamination. Perez said he’d be willing to do that, but it would be an added expense because non-lead bullets are more expensive.
Officers typically do a significant amount of training above qualifying for their firearms, and not having adequate facilities could impact that training. It’s an important part of running the sheriff’s office, Perez said.
“I think there should be some sense of urgency,” he said. “For crying out loud, we’re under water. What else do we have to do to prove it’s necessary?”