Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office Needs New Firing Range | Business
BLOUNTVILLE – In order to keep its 263 officers certified under state guidelines, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office needs a new range by about April, Sheriff Jeff Cassidy said.
For about 15 years, the Sheriff’s Office has had a shooting range and training center at the Highway 394 landfill in Blountville. The county once owned the land and sold it to a developer who first announced in 2006 plans to expand a landfill.
The business became Eco-Safe, and that allowed the sheriff’s office to continue using the existing shooting range and training center that the county had built there.
In 2020, the landfill was purchased by Waste Management, Cassidy said, and he was told last October that would mean more access to the shooting range.
Waste Management has a nationwide policy banning guns on its properties, Cassidy said, and the sheriff’s office was initially asked to vacate the property by Dec.31, 2020.
Cassidy said she sent a letter to Waste Management.
“I told them we had to take training,” Cassidy told the Sullivan County Commission. “If I have 158 certified staff with no mandatory firearms training, they are no longer certified and we will not have police to patrol the streets.
Waste Management responded by extending the deadline to Dec.31 of this year, Cassidy said, and has been working on a plan for a new range ever since.
Waste Management allowed the sheriff’s office to continue to access the outdoor shooting range, but did not allow officers to use the training facility, Cassidy said.
The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office isn’t the only local agency that uses the rifle range to keep officers certified to the state’s required Peace Officer Training and Standards (POST) guidelines. Cassidy said her training was also reserved for County Police Officers, Reserve Officers, Northeast State Security Forces, Tri Cities Airport Security Officers and the Police Department. of Bluff City.
The number 158 mentioned by Cassidy concerns the patrol boats. 105 other officers work in the prison and must also be certified, Cassidy said.
Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable helped identify county-owned land on a hill across from Massengill Road from the Sullivan County Animal Shelter as the proposed site for a new shooting range and a new installation, Cassidy said.
Sullivan County Commissioners Gary Stidham and Angie Stanley introduced a resolution at first reading last month asking the county commission to provide up to $ 1 million in federal aid to build the new shooting range and training center.
Cassidy himself said a lot of materials and labor had already been donated for the project and he would estimate the actual cost to be maybe $ 475,000. Chad Baker of Baker Construction donated the preliminary grading of the new site which Cassidy said would have cost the county $ 50,000 otherwise.
Cassidy said he spoke to all landowners with land abutting the proposed site and personally stood outside the animal shelter, with county staff, as MPs carried out tests on the proposed new site. Cassidy said the animal shelter worker was surprised at how little of his sound was transmitted to the shelter.
Cassidy noted that if the project went ahead, the sound would be even more muffled once berms were built on three sides of the shooting range.
Stidham said he had been assured by the University of Tennessee County Technical Support Department that the project would be eligible for the use of relief funds intended to offset the economic losses suffered by the county during the pandemic. . Stidham said about $ 6.6 million of the $ 30.7 million Sullivan County would receive falls into this category, and there are fewer restrictions on how it can be spent.
Some commissioners recalled the details of the original proposal to sell the land to the landfill developer, which included Eco-Safe paying $ 500,000 to the sheriff’s office to help build a new firing range and a new training center. This clause did not ultimately lead to final negotiations.
County District Attorney Dan Street said the county got $ 1 million from its sale of land to the developer and got everything it was entitled to under the final contract. Street said the sheriff’s office did not have the right to remove buildings or other range improvements on Waste Management property.
Commissioners Todd Broughton, Hershel Glover and Dwight King opposed a resolution being put to a vote until the county has received specific direction from the federal government as to whether the project can be funded with the relief money.
Venable said one of the commission’s three main committees could call a special meeting if it wanted to discuss the matter further before a vote. None have. The resolution is on the committee’s monthly agenda this week. The commission is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Thursday on the second floor of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse.