Wadley officers have their own firing range
Friday, December 22, 2017 - 9:52am
Although Wadley Police Chief Jimmy Butts has opened a firing range for his officers, he has plans to do more.
He wants to create a barrier between the range and the property contiguous to the range. He sees the range having a trailer where officers can clean their weapons.
The Wadley Police Department (WAPD) has a training officer, Capt. David Hindman, who joined the department several months ago. His Georgia POST certifications include firearms instructor, departmental training officer and field training officer.
Hindman said in order to qualify with firearms the officer must have a score of 240 points out of 300 points, or 80 percent. There are four distances where the officer must be while shooting, 3-, 7-, 15- and 25 yards.
“The Wadley Police Department assigns each officer in its employment a Glock model 22, a .40 caliber firearm. The officer must also be proficient with the use of the Remington 12-gauge shotgun,” he said.
Georgia POST requires all police officers in the state to qualify with their issued firearms once a year, along with the Use of Force Laws, the captain said.
“The officer that fails their re-qualification score will be granted the number of times necessary to train and qualify the officer. If the officer is a detriment to the department for liability reasons and cannot be proficient with their firearm with the recommendation of the range master it will be up to the chief or sheriff to disqualify the officer of their duties and advise POST,” Hindman said.
Officers with WAPD will re-qualify twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.
“The range is open to the officers on a daily basis for shooting, provided the range master can be on site at the range. Otherwise, officers can make a scheduled appointment with the range master for firearms training,” Hindman said.
Hindman has five rules for anyone on the range; and, he stresses his number one rule – do not shoot the range master or instructor.
Other rules are:
Keep firearms holstered or pointed downrange at all times;
Load or empty your firearm only when instructed to do so by the range instructor;
Follow all commands of the range master at all times; and,
Once you are on the firing line or receiving instructions from the range master, there will be no talking or conversations at all.
Currently, Hindman is the only POST certified firearms instructor for the WAPD.
“To be a firearms instructor, you must first pass 80 hours of general instructor training and be POST certified,” Hindman said.
“Next you must pass an 80-hour firearms instructor training course. To qualify for this school, the student instructor must pass with a score of 90 percent with a base score of 270 out of 300 points to be allowed to take the school,” the captain stated.
At the end of the school, the student instructor has to qualify again at the same standard. To be POST certified as a firearms instructor, the student instructor has to qualify again to the same standard.
“The Firearms Instructor School is a very intense and in depth school. Before the class is finished, the student will have fired more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition for their handgun, with more than 400 rounds with the 12-gauge shotgun as well,” he said.
Jefferson County Sheriff Gary Hutchins has a firing range in mind for his deputies. Correctional officers from the Jefferson County Correctional Institute (JCCI) will also be able to train, practice and qualify at the range, Hutchins said.
“The warden and the deputy warden have to qualify,” he said and added he did not know if the COs have to qualify. “I think it would be beneficial for us to have our own firing range,” the sheriff said.
“We could do our own training right here. It would be feasible for us to have it here. Having a range on our own premises would be a benefit. It’s been great to have a place to go; but, other agencies would be able to come here for qualifying,” he said. The range will be located behind the Law Enforcement Center in Louisville.
The sheriff said he’s been thinking about a range for a while.
“We had to go to Wrens to train or train in Louisville,” he said.
Plans are for an outdoor range with up to six lanes.
The training officer for the sheriff’s office is Deputy Alan Logue. He also certifies the deputies when they qualify.
Hutchins said the cost to build and maintain the range will be minimal. The bank around the range will be made from dirt at the site.
“The bank will curl around like a horseshoe. The bank will be on the sides and in front,” he said. The plan is to use dirt at the site rather than bring dirt to the site to build the bank.
Hutchins said besides having a bank around the range for safety reasons, it will also keep down the noise of weapon fire.
One of the important things about the range is everything will be stationary. Currently, deputies have to transport the equipment they need to the range and back to the LEC.
“We’re going to set our rules; but, definitely you don’t want to be out there by yourself,” he said. “But the people have been good to us for letting us use their land for qualifying; and, I want them to know we appreciate it.”
Hutchins said having a range at the LEC will be convenient for his officers as well as those at JCCI.
“They can practice along the year and stay sharp in their shooting,” the sheriff said.