ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – The Kane County Sheriff’s Office has begun talking with a private business about leasing space at a yet-to-be-built shooting range to help deputies and jail guards, among others, keep their firearms skills up to date.
But Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez has continued his office’s push to line up the support of the County Board for a plan to build a new permanent county-owned shooting range on the same ground as the county jail.
“There are options we’re exploring,” Perez said. “But for the long term, the best option is to build our own facility.”
Friday, the County Board Judicial and Public Safety Committee recommended the board approve a request from the sheriff to use $67,500 from a county contingency fund – essentially, an account set aside for spending on unanticipated expenses – to hire an architect to draft plans and cost estimates for the eventual construction of such a firearms range.
The matter will next advance to the County Board Executive Committee on May 8. From there, it could move to the full board May 14.
Perez raised the issue in February after floods at the sheriff’s office existing shooting range at the otherwise-abandoned old county jail site on Fabyan Parkway in Geneva left the site contaminated with mold and lead and unusable.
That left the sheriff’s office’s 242 sworn personnel without a place for training to receive their required firearms certifications, Perez said. Without such regular certifications, the county could be exposed to higher levels of liability, should deputies injure someone in an incident in which they were forced to fire a weapon.
Perez has proposed building a firing range at the county’s jail site at Peck Road and Route 38 in St. Charles Township. He has proposed paying for it using money generated from payments from the federal government for housing inmates in custody of the U.S. Marshals.
He has acknowledged the project might be costly, but he is hesitant to guess at a price.
“This is a big first step,” Perez said. “[The architects] can give us a true estimate of the cost, which we can’t do right now.”
In the meantime, Perez said he has begun talks with a businessman who has contacted the sheriff’s office with an offer to lease future space at a shooting range that is being planned for an industrial building near Dean Street, east of Randall Road, in St. Charles.
Perez said this businessman, whom Perez declined to identify, has expressed a willingness to accommodate the sheriff’s office needs, including four reserved shooting lanes, a private entrance for law enforcement personnel and a locker for the sheriff’s office’s training ammunition.
Perez said the developer of the shooting range has not obtained permits from the city of St. Charles to build the range.
“But he read in the newspaper that we had a need, and he has offered to help us,” Perez said.
However, Perez said any such arrangements would only temporarily help his office because a permanent shooting range on the sheriff’s office site would allow all sheriff’s office personnel to obtain their training and certifications without time-consuming offsite travel or the need to pay overtime for officers to train outside their normal work shifts.