After a brief groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning, Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez talked about why the $1.8 million facility is so important to him personally, to the employees of the Sheriff’s Department and to the citizens of Kane County.
“Ultimately, for me, I want my people coming home at the end of their shift,” he said.
“(This facility) means that our people will be guaranteed the absolute best firearms and tactical training that we can provide — not just to qualify for the sake of qualification but for the tactical use of cover,” he said. “It’s important for me to know that we’re giving our officers the best opportunity to be trained for situations that may end up in the use of force with a firearm.”
Among the features that will be built into the facility, designed by Aurora-based Cordogan Clark & Associates, will be the ability to pull a squad car into the shooting range to replicate situations officers encounter on the street.
“For the taxpayers, it’s a guarantee that the people serving and protecting them will be trained, not just minimally, not just adequately, but their training will be top-shelf. And it’s as much for the protection of the public we protect as it is for the officers who serve.”
Over time, Perez said, the $1.8 million investment will be a great value for the residents of Kane County.
“To put it in perspective, the North Aurora Police Department built a firearms range for their new facility about five or six years ago, and it cost about $2 million. So we came in about $110,000 under what they did six years ago,” he said.
“I think we’ve been very prudent in our design and our planning. We really did a good needs assessment, and made it so that it’s going to satisfy all our needs without breaking the bank.”
Perez said building the shooting range on the Judicial Center campus will result in significant cost savings. Sheriff’s deputies and Judicial Center security personnel will be among the 244 Kane County employees who will use the range. The state of Illinois requires twice-a-year firearms certification for law enforcers.
The Sheriff’s Office shooting range previously had been located at the former county jail site on Fabyan Parkway near Settler’s Hill Landfill. That facility fell into disrepair due to age and flooding, and the county training in recent months has been done at St. Charles’ and other departments’ shooting ranges.
“The benefit is we’re eliminating the lost productivity of having to send our people to another location to have to qualify for their weapons. Now, they walk 100 yards from the jail, and they’re here,” Perez said.
Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen offered a similar perspective in a brief interview after the groundbreaking.
“We’re saving the money we had to pay to someone else when we didn’t have a facility,” he said. “It’s a wise investment, and it’s my guess that this facility will be here at least as long as the old facility was — 30 to 50 years.
“I’m very grateful to the taxpayers and citizens of Kane County,” he said. “They provide the resources, and (this facility) provides public safety. Our police officers and sheriff’s deputies are going to be better trained, and it’s going to include training of other police officers from the whole area of Kane County.
“It’s really a necessary part of any government,” he said. “With a law-enforcement agency of this size, we have to have our people trained. When a police officer shows up, and there’s trouble, the citizens we serve want them to be at their best.”
Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony was especially meaningful for Perez, who is retiring at the end of November. He said the construction of the shooting range is a gratifying conclusion to his term in office because he knows it has the potential to benefit officers and citizens of Kane County for a generation to come.
“It’s the period at the end of the sentence that was always missing,” he said.