Saturday, November 27, 2021

Chief Conn responds to CKPS firearms range concerns

Chatham-Kent Police Service officials say over the past week, there have been concerns, raised by a local citizen, regarding the new CKPS Range.

Chief Gary Conn prepared a following statement, with the hope of clarifying everyone’s questions, police officials added.

“This is an unfortunate set of circumstances and as a result, I will provide some context to this matter,” Chief Conn said in his written statement.

“Everyone must appreciate that police officers in Ontario are provincially mandated to requalify on their firearms annually.”

Chief Conn said in the past 24 years that he has been with the Chatham-Kent Police Service, they have moved their firearms range 3 times.

“At each previous location (Cedar Springs and Dresden), we received and expect complaints from residents in the immediate area, this current location on the Dillion Line is no different,” Conn said.

“In an attempt to mitigate these complaints, when we initially started this project back in 2018 we did speak to three property owners who reside on the Dillion Road and at that time, none had any issues with the range. We did this as a professional courtesy although it is not required, while in addition to speaking directly with Mr. Paul Lacina – Director of Building Development Services.”

Conn added: “Although we already knew the answer in regards to current By-Laws and exemptions for Police Ranges, Mr. Lacina advised us that for discharging of firearms, it is permissible Monday to Sunday between all hours, excluding the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. This provision applies to all of Chatham-Kent, including the range location. Mr. Lacina further advised that coincidentally, this provision would not apply to the activities of Police Services either as a requirement of the job or through required training.”

Conn said the current location is municipal private property in a rural area and is zoned as rural industrial, not residential.

“It is also central for all of Chatham-Kent, which is ideal for our purposes,” Conn said.

“The Range construction from an operational perspective is complete. The remaining portions are trees, shrubs, paved parking lot etc.. mainly cosmetic issues. The cost for this project was approximately $900,000, and was approved by the Police Services Board about 3.5 years ago. Having said that and to provide some historical context, prior to submitting the Board report for this project a cost benefit analysis was completed.”

Conn added: “This analysis compared previous costs associated to the annual range fees associated to the former range locations. This property was privately owned and had an annual rental fee of approximately $16,000. In addition, other variables were taken into consideration such as commute time to travel 30 kilometres one way to the Dresden range or 60 kilometres round trip and the cost associated to vehicle wear and tear as well as fuel costs.”

Conn said these costs are all exceptionally lower with the new range being centrally located in the municipality and the commute from headquarters only being six kilometres.

“The officers down time is further substantially reduced as a result of this new central location for the range. These variables and others, conservatively provide a $50,000 per year cost savings. As a result, from a return on investment perspective in less then 18 years this range has paid for itself, however if other law enforcement services lease time, it will reduce the number of years and eventually generate revenue for the municipality. Subsequently, the bottom line confirms that this was the most cost efficient and fiscally responsible approach we could take for the tax payers of our municipality. The former models (Dresden and Cedar Springs) were only hemorrhaging money with continual annual expenditures and no municipal ownership or possibility of annual return incomings.”

Conn said he wishes to mitigate any complaints.

“In this regard, we are currently still in the process of completing this range, but once finished (2nd – 3rd quarter of 2022) it will include further sound abatement initiatives,” he said.

“Some of these will include trees, shrubs, pressure treated fence on top of the berm, baffles, etc. The Range is posted with more signs to be erected this coming week. It is municipal private property and those not authorized or invited to be on said property, could be charged under the Trespass to Property Act.”

Conn added: “The berm which surrounds the actual range is 21 feet high and the fence in question is to be placed on top of the berm for sound abatement purposes. The fence provides an additional layer of protection, but its primary purpose is sound reduction.”

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