After 42 years, the Brookfield Police Department’s gun range is getting a major face-lift.
The range, located beneath the main police offices in the basement of Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave., has received little in the way of upgrades since it was built in 1972.
In 2004, the department installed a new bullet trap, which recently was cleaned. But the rest of the range is obsolete, according to Lt. James Episcopo, who presented the plan to upgrade the range to members of the village board on Oct. 13.
“The range hasn’t been touched since this place was built, other than the backstop,” said Episcopo. “The equipment was spotty and the shooting lanes were getting to be an issue.”
Of the seven shooting lanes in the range, he said, just one still had a functioning target system.
Police Chief Steven Stelter obtained two quotes for a new target system, choosing Provo, Utah-based Action Target, which submitted the low quote of $55,750. The installation of the target system will be paid for by drug-seizure funds, which the Brookfield Police Department receives from both federal and state drug cases that involve the seizure of vehicles or cash.
The police department’s drug-seizure fund, which can only be used to purchase equipment related to fighting drug-related crimes, has a balance of about $78,000, according to Doug Cooper, Brookfield’s finance director.
When the renovations are completed, the gun range will have five shooting lanes (down from seven) and a state-of-the-art target system that will be able to better accommodate the kind of tactical training police use.
Targets, which before the renovation could only move closer or farther away from the shooter, will now be able to move from side to side and rotate 360 degrees.
According to Episcopo, the shooting range, which is 75 feet long, is used extensively by Brookfield police officers for practice and for state qualifying tests that police must pass annually. Brookfield Zoo police also use the range for handgun qualification, and North Riverside police rifle instructors use the range as well.
“We use the range constantly for officer training,” Episcopo said.
Much of the range has been offline during the last couple of months as public works employees have worked to gut the range to prepare it for the renovation. The department has kept one firing lane open for target practice.
Over the next couple of weeks, the village will add new lighting to the range. But it will take some time before the renovated range will be fully operational.
The village board is expected to pass a resolution on Nov. 10 to waive competitive bidding and authorize the expenditure for the purchase and installation of the target system.
Episcopo told village trustees that Brookfield Zoo is looking to contribute $10,000 toward the project since its officers also use the range. The zoo contributed $7,500 toward the installation of the new bullet trap, which cost about $27,000, in 2004.
Once the village board approves the expenditure, it will take 8-10 weeks for the target system to be customized for Brookfield’s space. Once that’s complete, according to Action Target’s price quote, installation of the target system will take less than a week.