Shawnee Police, landfill firm may partner on shooting range
A recent surge in the number of private citizens wanting to arm themselves and practice firing their guns has triggered a shortage of shooting range availability for Shawnee police officers.
But Capt. Mark Hein of the Shawnee Police Department zeroed in on a solution during the April 16 Shawnee City Council Committee meeting.
Hein told the officials that Deffenbaugh Industries, operators of the Johnson County Landfill, had approached the department with a proposal to create an indoor firearms range on remote, industrially zoned property near the landfill and the regional wastewater treatment plant in Shawnee.
Following Hein’s presentation, the council committee voted unanimously to direct city staff to finalize an agreement relating to the proposal, which calls for improving an existing building for exclusive use as a 25-yard shooting range by Deffenbaugh Industries and Shawnee Police Department employees.
According to preliminary discussions, the city will be asked to pay about $75,000 of the costs to improve the facility, which would be maintained by Deffenbaugh Industries. But according to Hein, that cost would be recouped within three years, as the facility is expected to save the city $34,000 a year in range fees and travel costs.
Hein said the department had struggled to arrange adequate shooting range time to accommodate its training needs for several years. And with the increased competition from the public, the problem is getting worse.
There are currently three Johnson County ranges available for officer training: the Bullet Hole in Overland Park, the Mill Creek Rifle Club in De Soto and a Kansas Highway Patrol range near Gardner. But routinely, Hein said, the department has had to use ranges as far away as Ottawa and St. Joseph, Mo.
The proposed agreement with Deffenbaugh Industries would accommodate at least 80 percent of the department’s firearms training needs at a distance of less than three miles from department headquarters, Hein said. But the site is far enough away from homes and other public places to minimize sound and safety concerns, he added.
“If someone were to hand you a map and say find a spot that would be a great place for an indoor range that wouldn’t bother anybody, this would be the spot,” Hein said.
In addition to modifying and maintaining the range, Deffenbaugh Industries has agreed to ensure compliance with all federal environmental and safety regulations.
Ward 2 Council Neal Sawyer, one of the committee members who supported the proposal, called it “a no-brainer.”