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Residents express concerns over proposed DeKalb County Sheriff's shooting range

Frightened cattle, property values among their shooting-range worries

SYCAMORE – Karl Faivre told a DeKalb County hearing officer Thursday that he’s concerned noise from a proposed police shooting range south of Cortland will spook livestock in the area.

Faivre, 28, of DeKalb said he supports the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and wants officers to be well-trained, but suggested there are better places for a rifle range – perhaps inside the expanded county jail or the DeKalb police station. If the sound of gunfire spooks cattle nearby, corralling them is “going to be on you guys,” Faivre said.

“You guys had your chance,” Faivre said. “You could’ve put an indoor shooting range at that point, and we wouldn’t be here today.”

Faivre was one of several people who voiced concerns about a proposal to create a new outdoor shooting range for sheriff’s deputies during a public hearing Thursday at the DeKalb County Administration Building. Other concerns cited by residents included shooting accidents that could affect nearby property owners and how police would handle trespassers.

Sheriff’s officials said the shooting range, proposed for county-owned land off Gurler Road near a landfill, would be used to conduct deputies’ rifle and shotgun training. It would cost about $60,000 to build.

Dale Clark, the hearing officer for DeKalb County, did not immediately make a recommendation for the County Board to approve or deny the request.

Sheriff’s Lt. Jim Burgh said the sheriff’s office conducts rifle and shotgun training at a range in Ogle County, but officers are seeking a more convenient location. Because the Ogle County site is a rock quarry, it’s becoming harder to have police vehicles on the land, he said.

“Which makes it sometimes difficult, but we, of course, make it work,” Burgh said.

State law requires police officers have at least two rifle and shotgun qualification sessions a year.

The shooting range would be for police only, and used no more than 12 times a year, Burgh said.

He said the sessions would include some training for the county’s special weapons and tactics team, which includes officers from DeKalb, Sycamore and Northern Illinois University.

Burgh said the sheriff’s office has an indoor shooting range at the county’s public safety building, which is used for handgun training. He said it’s not equipped to handle officer qualifications for rifles or shotguns.

He said the sheriff’s office used to train at a shooting range in Waterman but the facility no longer accepts law enforcement for training, and it’s also hard for police to use a similar shooting range in Sycamore.

“They’re so busy there that it’s very difficult to schedule,” Burgh said.

Burgh said the proposed shooting range would allow the SWAT team to practice responses to real-life scenarios.

“This would make it much easier for us to do more realistic training,” Burgh said.

Hung-Hsueh Wang, 63, of DeKalb said she’s concerned that a proposed shooting range near her home will hurt property values. Not only are there people with post-traumatic stress disorder nearby, she said, but people shooting at the range also could hurt production for nearby dairy or beef cattle farming businesses that were on the land first.

“They’re all affected because they’re not used to this noise,” Wang said.

Burgh said use of the range would be restricted to DeKalb County law enforcement agencies. He said the sheriff’s office also could help facilitate testing the lead level in the soil periodically, notify nearby residents when training is scheduled at the site and plant trees in the area to muffle the gunshot noise.

Robert Jordal, 79, of DeKalb said residents in the area already had to accept the expansion of Waste Management’s landfill. He said promises to residents at a particular hearing may not be kept – and the county ends up doing whatever it wants anyway.

“I think it’s totally wrong that that area has to become another problem,” Jordal said, “and that we have to live with another problem.”

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