The outdated computer at the gun range no longer communicates with the console at each lane.

The outdated computer at the gun range no longer communicates with the console at each lane.

File photo by Deb Jacques

MHPD gun range to be refurbished

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published June 12, 2018

 The gun range at the Madison Heights Police Department has fallen into disrepair, but the City Council has approved plans to replace it.

The gun range at the Madison Heights Police Department has fallen into disrepair, but the City Council has approved plans to replace it.

File photo by Deb Jacques

MADISON HEIGHTS — The Madison Heights City Council has approved the first purchases toward refurbishing the gun range at the Madison Heights Police Department.

The council unanimously approved Meggitt Range Systems for the project. Madison Heights Police Chief Corey Haines considered several vendors before choosing Meggitt, which installed the original range and offered the most complete and cost-effective package, at a cost not to exceed $204,000. Work is expected to begin within the year. 

In the new budget that the City Council approved May 14, around $248,000 was allocated for the project. The gun range is desperately in need of refurbishment, officials said.

“Replacing the range will save approximately $600,000 in costs over the 20-year life expectancy of the new range,” Haines said. “This number is reduced by the cost of the range. So in other words, the cost of not replacing (the range) and going to a private range exceeded $800,000.”

The current gun range is as old as the police station itself, built in 1991. And it’s falling apart. 

The gun trap that catches the lead to prevent ricocheting bullets has deteriorated to the point that it may no longer work. The curtains that slow down bullets before they reach the trap are in tatters. The computer no longer communicates with the console at each lane to move the targets; the officers have to manually push them into place. The company that made the computer parts stopped making them 20 years ago. The targets can no longer turn around for shoot/don’t shoot scenarios. And the facility in general is falling apart, full of cracked walls and ceiling tiles.

A functional gun range is needed in order to best prepare officers for life-or-death situations they may encounter in the field. Gun ranges give officers the confidence, skill, intuition and muscle memory to assess situations, pick their shots, shoot accurately, and resolve weapon malfunctions and other issues that may occur.

The lack of a functioning gun range at the MHPD means that the officers increasingly rely on private ranges for practice. This is costly since it incurs overtime for patrol officers and the range officers who oversee the range. There is also the cost of transporting equipment to and from private ranges, and the cost of renting the range itself.

For the refurbishment, the current range will be completely removed and replaced with updated materials. New steel baffles will be placed into the ceiling structures to prevent bullets, stray or otherwise, from penetrating the ceiling into the floor above the range. The range will be completely cleaned of all lead contamination. All-new computer-operated target carriers will be installed. The floor will be stripped of its crumbling floor coating, and the floor will be epoxy-coated. The walls will be patched where necessary and repainted. New range partitions will also be installed to protect officers from stray rounds and shells ejecting from the weapons. 

“Officers need as much practice as possible to become proficient with their weapons, and for officer and citizen safety,” Haines said. “When officers practice on the range, they are building muscle memory and learning to clear malfunctions that could save their lives or lives of the citizens that they are protecting.” 

The City Council offered its full support. 

“Part of our public safety commitment to the residents includes ensuring our police force is well-trained and prepared for the challenges they face serving the community,” said City Councilman Robert Corbett. “Having a state-of-the-art and secure training facility available to officers 24/7 is essential for the proper functioning of a modern police force. I’m confident that this expenditure of money will have long-term benefits for the residents of Madison Heights.” 

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Bliss agreed.

“This has been in the council goals discussion for a few years, but financial limitations prevented us from getting it done. This year, though, we were able to not only include this council goal in the budget, but through an effective goals process and line-item budgeting review, we were able to add two new officers who will train in this new range.

“All around, it’s a major positive for our city,” Bliss said. “An upgraded range is not only safer, but it will help provide improved training and even cut down on costs, since our officers will no longer have to visit other ranges.”