SMITHFIELD – The Smithfield Police Department is considering forming a partnership with the Smithfield Sportsman’s Club by investing up to $250,000 in the club in exchange for the use of its shooting range.
According to Smithfield Police Chief Richard St. Sauveur, the discussion involves multiple parties, including the city council, the SPD and representatives from the Smithfield Sportsman’s Club located at 14 Walter Carey Road.
The chief said it was premature to discuss details of the partnership, including scope and cost. Further discussion is needed, he said.
According to a presentation created by St. Savior and Detective Lt. Cory Carpenter, Smithfield does not have a dedicated firearms range to use for training and has used other police ranges in the state. Some of the other shooting ranges do not allow the use of rifles and shotguns, and therefore only a few police shooting ranges are used.
There are problems accessing a distance slot, which costs valuable time and money to travel to and from remote distances. The presentation also indicates that society demands more police training due to recent events.
Two potential solutions are offered, including building a new police firing range or working with the SSC. In the first case, location, cost and maintenance are problematic, especially since it is only used for a limited time.
A partnership with the SSC would mean the SPD working with the club to make improvements, which would give both groups a state-of-the-art shooting range, police say.
Possible upgrades include an exterior Meggitt ball stop with rubber compound on the 25 yard range, an advanced moving target system, paving of the 25 yard range in front of the Meggitt ball stop and storage for the Equipment and Provisions.
According to the presentation, the SPD does not wish to change the SSC and is seeking a fixed number of weekdays per month to have exclusive use of the facility for police training. The SSC would have full access to the range and equipment on non-police days.
City insurance would cover the SPD and employees during training at SSC. This would require a memorandum of understanding between the SPD and SSC. The SPD and SSC would appoint members for a joint committee to ensure that all improvements are agreed upon and achieve common goals.
In the SPD’s initial submission to the SSC, the SPD currently has four range training times per year, but would like to increase that number, and depending on the submission, the department may need to increase firearms training under Rhode Island law.
Existing annual firearms training includes Spring Pistol Qualifiers outdoors in May, Summer Rifles and Shotgun Qualifiers outdoors in August or September, Fall Training low-light/no-light outdoors in November and an indoor firearms simulator in the winter in March.
According to the presentation, next steps include receiving approval from the Sportsman’s Club and City Council to proceed with the plan, forming a range committee to develop project specifications, creating and approving the memorandum, board approval of engineering and design service proposals, contractor selection and construction.
According to the SSC website, the club was founded in 1917 to promote game conservation and sportsman-friendly legislation. With over 300 members interested in a range of sports including hunting, fishing, target shooting and archery, the organization continues to be an active community working towards its original goals.