EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

March 16, 2014

Firing on all cylinders

Upgrade nearly finished on police training facility

PLAISTOW — The town is putting the finishing touches on upgrades to its police training facility.

Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said the town has put $35,000 into the facility over the past five years, much of that from private donations.

“It’s much more than just a firing range,” he said. “This facility will have a classroom component to it and will be really helpful to many of the challenges which public safety departments face.”

Fitzgerald said the plan is to unveil the upgrades this spring.

Police Chief Stephen Savage said upgrading the facility has been in the works for more than two decades.

“It’s a culmination of many important things,” he said. “We tried to do it with all self-help with no taxpayer expenses.”

The most notable of upgrades is reclaiming the land on which officers shoot. Police use the range to train for mandatory state qualifications.

“It’s really about meeting best management practices,” Fitzgerald said. “We are focused on recycling the lead and casings which come out of there.”

The facility is located near the town landfill on Wilder Road, but other departments have been using it and are contributing to the upgrades. Savage said Hampstead, Atkinson, Danville and Haverhill, Mass., all use the facility.

“This is just another example of something we can make into a regional resource,” Fitzgerald said.

The range also is used by the U.S. Postal Service inspectors. They donated $1,000 for steel target frames and a steel storage box.

Other upgrades include new landscaping, an improved parking area and the installation of a permanent generator.

Fitzgerald said the plan is to name the center in Savage’s honor.

“As soon as the weather cooperates and we can complete the cleanup, then we will have a proper dedication ceremony,” he said. “We want representatives from all the police departments there to cut the ribbon.”

Savage said he was honored to have his name associated with the facility.

“It’s extremely flattering, but I’m embarrassed by it,” he said.

Over the years, the range has seen numerous repairs. The range was fenced in several years ago to prevent anyone from accidentally wandering in. In 2008, an indoor classroom was built so police could hold classes on site.

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