TOWN OF BELOIT
Police chiefs in Janesville and Beloit are standing against a proposed law enforcement facility in the town of Beloit, claiming existing facilities in Rock County are sufficient.
Other police departments, including Milton and Clinton, support such a facility, saying a modern training center is needed in the area.
Beloit Town Administrator Ian Haas and Police Chief Ron Northrop proposed a new facility in a Feb. 1 letter to neighboring departments. The plan is “in its infancy,” they wrote, and the existing shooting range the Town of Beloit Police Department uses is “not very functional.”
“There is a need in the area for a range,” Northrop told the Beloit Town Board on Monday night. “Departments have to go and pay an extravagant amount.”
Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore disagreed, saying Janesville’s shooting range—the La Prairie Pistol Range—is “very reasonably” priced. The department currently charges $100 to rent a four-hour time slot and $175 for an eight-hour time slot, he said.
Many county police departments used Janesville’s shooting range in 2017, including the cities of Whitewater, Beloit, Milton, Evansville and Edgerton. The Secret Service rented the facility twice.
The town’s sketch for a new facility includes an eight-lane outdoor shooting range, from 25 yards to 100 yards, modern training equipment, and gravel and concrete movement areas.
Janesville’s shooting range has indoor and outdoor areas.
Haas said the budget for the town’s proposed facility could be around $250,000, but the town would seek grants and private donations instead of using taxpayer dollars.
Northrop noted that the town has operated a shooting range and training spot for several years.
The range is located on a parcel of land off South Walters Road. In March or April, construction on a new public works facility is slated on that plot. Haas and Northrop want to use the new construction as a means to rehabilitate and enhance the existing range.
“All we’re doing is partnering with other agencies and giving them other options,” Northrop said.
Even if no other law enforcement agency supported the range, Northrop said, “We are going to develop it.”
“It’s not something that we’re starting just from the ground and doing this,” he said. “We have an existing area. We just want to build on it and make it better for that area.”
Milton Police Chief Scott Marquardt said his department is currently working on a letter supporting the facility.
“It’s always good to have multiple different options,” Marquardt said. “Then if the Janesville range is busy, we’ll have another range to go to. I think having another facility in the area is helpful.”
Clinton Police Chief Dave Hooker agreed, saying there aren’t any good range facilities in “this part of the county.”
“It would be a modern facility, which would allow us to train for things occurring today, like an active shooter,” Hooker said.
Beloit Police Chief David Zibolski strongly opposes the facility. He said the town didn’t reach out to him, and he doesn’t understand where the need exists.
“It just seems rather odd if you ask me,” Zibolski said. “There’s plenty of firing ranges around. We have no need whatsoever.”
Moore also said the Janesville Police Department will not sign a letter of support.
The Beloit Town Board will determine whether to support the facility at its next meeting March 5.