Currently, Bowen said the Lebanon Police Department uses the Wilson County Sheriffs Department or Mt. Juliet Police Department firing ranges to train its 72 uniformed officers. Bowen said difficulty with scheduling and the cost of driving to Mt. Juliet warrant the construction of their own range.
Theyve been very gracious, but if theyre using it, we cant train our people, and if we have to travel to Mt. Juliet, I have to pay officers to drive there and the cost of fuel, Bowen said.
Since the firing range passed the Lebanon City Council on two readings, many residents who live in the area have spoken against it, and Bowen noted around 100 people have signed a petition opposing the firing range.
However, Bowen said the firing range poses no danger to the residents around the 33-acre lot and did not believe a recent assertion that the range would devalue the property values of residents living nearby.
Its next to a landfill, no one complained about the city operating a landfill there for all these years, Bowen said.
While planning the firing range, Bowen noted they have taken all the necessary precautions and then some to ensure the safety of those off the range. He pointed out that most injuries occurring on firing ranges happen within the range.
The range is to be 25 yards long, and Bowen said it would be a pistol range where officers would train one to two times a week. He said they conducted sound tests at the Mt. Juliet range and at the current location and said the amount of noise would be comparable to road noise.
He said officers would be firing south and added the nearest home to the south is more than 2,000 feet away from the property. He also noted there will be a 25-foot high berm around the range and a ballistic wall to prevent any rounds from leaving the range.
Were going above and beyond to make sure this is as safe as it can be, Bowen said.
LPD will hold a meeting open to the public from 6 until 7 p.m., Thursday, March 29, at Hunters Point Celebration Center, for residents to see the plans and ask questions. The Center is located at 2232 Hunters Point Pike.
Once its built and operating, I think people are going to see if doesnt affect them the way they thought, the police chief said.
Bowen pointed out the cost of building the range will be around $75,000, utilizing the departments drug fund in order to avoid using taxpayer money. He said the cost of building an indoor range would be phenomenal compared to the outdoor range.
Officers are required to have a minimum of 8 hours a year in firearms training and with 72 officers, that means 576 hours at minimum of firearms training each year. With 52 weeks in a year, the department would need to have a little more than 15 hours a week of training on average.
Bowen said the largest number of lawsuits filed against police departments involved the failure to train officers. He said the LPD having its own firing range would be a great benefit to the department over the long haul.
I respect the people out there, but weve taken every precaution that we can, weve talked to the city attorney (Andy Wright), and we see no reason not to move forward, he said.
Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at email@example.com.