Snoqualmie completes firing range

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SNOQUALMIE _ The last component of the city's public safety

center at Snoqualmie Parkway and Southeast Douglas Street is

complete. Within the month, local police officers will be able to perform not

only weapons qualification but also tactical training within city limits.

Until now Snoqualmie police officers were forced to go to a range

in Bellevue to complete their firing qualifications. However, the recent

completion of the firing range in the building's basement has provided the final

piece of the "puzzle."

The range _ built by Caswell-Detroit International of Minneapolis _

is more than the "typical" row of

targets that you've seen on TV and in the movies. It features six

computer-controlled rail target systems that can move back and forth to simulate

a threatening suspect. Each target has a light, which can be switched on

and off allowing the illumination of individual targets while forcing an

officer- in-training to make split-second decisions.

In addition, the range is large enough to allow the use of

vehicles, dividers and doors. That allows Snoqualmie's policemen to engage

in a large number of varying training scenarios.

"The scenarios are limitless," said the department's Capt. Jim

Schaffer. "We can bring vehicles in, practice entering buildings, do warrant

deliveries and execute searches.

"We've been renting training bays at an indoor range in Bellevue.

Now we won't have the expense of traveling and won't have to train

everyone in one day. We can train the officers while they're on duty, expenses

are lower and the money we save will go directly into more training.

"It's every city's dream," he added, "to reduce the liability profile of

the city. Tactical training is the most defensible way to protect yourself in

a civil suit."

Schaffer stated that other law enforcement agencies would use

the range as part of the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program. The

program is partly a result from the Columbine massacre of April 1999.

"That's the big push," Schaffer said. "To be ready for everything.

Prepare the department, prepare each officer. You can watch videos, you

can talk about it, you can punch paper at 25 yards, but nothing prepares you

like this.

"That was the whole goal of this training facility. It would save us

now and into the future."

The facility also features a unique bullet-retention system that's

manufactured from _ surprisingly _ recycled tires. Formally known as a bullet

containment or encapsulation system, it lines the walls, the ceiling baffles

and the back wall of the range. Bullets fired into the rubber chunks are

captured and don't disintegrate or ricochet. That also cuts down on lead pollution

and makes bullet recycling easier.

"Caswell will come out after approximately 500,000 rounds

have been expended and will clean the trap," Schaffer said. "They'll keep

the bullets, so no expenses are passed on to the city."

The captain said training should start at the end of the month once

the ammunition supply arrives. The department has three qualified

firearms instructors who will serve as range masters for the training effort.

As to the facility's other use, as backup emergency housing in

the event of a natural disaster, Schaffer said that would continue.

"If people had to come up here and spend the night while waiting to

get back into their home, they could," he commented. "With this

ventilation system, it isn't a problem. There

won't be any air problems or problems with leftover fumes.

"This closes out construction of the police facility. We are finished."

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