Police shooting range misses mark with Basehor City Council
The Basehor City Council on Monday rejected a proposed shooting range for the city's police department after residents at the meeting spoke out against the project.
By a 3-2 vote, the council did not approve a proposal to construct a range on the property of the city's wastewater treatment plant at 2300 N. 158th St. Members Fred Box and Travis Miles voted to accept the proposal.
Basehor Police Chief Lloyd Martley said Tuesday that the vote meant the city's police would continue to use a range in Tonganoxie for firearms training and qualification requirements.
“The issue is now dead,” Martley said. “We will not be pursuing our own shooting range.”
Six residents spoke against the proposed range Monday, saying the location was too close to residences in the area and raising concerns about noise, safety and property values.
Basehor resident Debbie Bonee gave council members a list of housing developments within a third of a mile from the proposed site of the range, and she said the construction of a range could hurt future development in the area.
“I am not against the police having a place to practice,” Bonee said. “I just think we need a better solution.”
Resident Ellen Green also said that the city would have trouble attracting future residents to live near a shooting range. Her primary concern, she said, was the possibility of an accident involving a child.
“It's not worth a child,” Green said, “even the very slight potential of a child being injured.”
At the council's work session July 11, Martley said that natural and constructed berms on three sides of the range would help guard against noise, and a downward slope would help keep bullets from exiting the range area. Officers would have fired west, toward unincorporated Leavenworth County and away from the city, he said.
Martley said Tuesday he made the proposal because he wanted to increase firearms training for the department. Officers now train on a shooting range only once or twice per year, he said. He noted that police officer deaths across the country rose by 37 percent in 2010, according to numbers compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
“There's a different type of criminal nowadays, and they're not afraid to shoot at cops,” Martley said. “The best defense and training for that is to be trained for that unexpected event.”
Martley said last week that further firearms training would also help the city avoid legal costs that could result from the misuse of police weapons.
Having a shooting range in the city would allow officers to train while still on duty, Martley said, reducing overtime costs. After the vote, Martley said he still planned to increase firearms training, sending officers to the Tonganoxie range more often.
The Tonganoxie range also is on the grounds of the city's wastewater treatment plant, which is on the eastern edge of the city. The nearest residential areas are about 0.3 of a mile away, Tonganoxie Police Chief Jeff Brandau said Tuesday, and the department had not received any complaints from residents.
“We really don't have a noise problem,” Brandau said.
City administrator Mark Loughry said Monday that the police department had chosen the location near the treatment plant because it was the only possible spot on city-owned property.
“If the city owned property that was a better fit, we would certainly consider that property,” Loughry said. “But we just don't have the money to go out and buy land in the middle of the county for a shooting range.”
Member Iris Dysart said she voted against the range because of the concerns raised by residents, and member David Breuer said he did not think the city should spend money on the project at a time when its budget was tight. Martley had estimated the cost of the project at about $15,000, though $5,000 would have been paid by an award from an FBI sharing program.