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DeKalb County Sheriff eyes land near Cortland for shooting range

December 31, 2018

CORTLAND – The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a more convenient local shooting range to conduct deputies’ rifle and shotgun training.

A DeKalb County hearing officer will be on hand for a 1 p.m. Thursday meeting in the east conference room at the DeKalb County Administrative Center,110 E. Sycamore St. in Sycamore. The hearing is for a petition for a special-use permit to use county-owned property on Gurler Road, 1,000 feet east of Somonauk Road, south of Cortland in Cortland Township. The property is near the landfill.

The shooting range would be for law enforcement personnel only, and will not allow any private or public use.

It will be the only opportunity for the public to voice any concerns about the proposal, so all interested people are encouraged to attend and be heard, according to a public notice.

“We do have an indoor range at our public safety building, but it’s not equipped to handle [officer] qualifications for rifles or long shotguns,” said Lt. Jim Burgh of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office on Friday.

The property the department wants to use for the range is zoned for agriculture use, but a shooting range requires a special use permit.

Burgh said the sheriff’s office currently conducts its rifle and shotgun training at a business in Ogle County, but are looking for a more localized area, and because the site is a rock quarry, it is becoming increasingly difficult to have police vehicles on the land.

“We don’t want to overstay our welcome there [in Ogle County],” Burgh said. “We thought this would be a good opportunity to stand on our own feet with our own range.”

The state of Illinois requires police officers to have at least two rifle and shotgun qualification sessions per year. The DeKalb County Sheriff’s office is proposing to use the site 12 times a year. The 12 sessions will include staggering officers to conduct qualifications and still maintain an on-street presence, and also include some special weapons and tactics (SWAT) training. Sycamore or DeKalb police could also request to use the range, but that would count as one of the 12 allowed sessions, Burgh explained.

“We will have a State of Illinois Range Instructor on site at all times,” Burgh emphasized. “”[The shooting range] won’t be for public use or leasing out to anybody.”

Burgh said the sheriff’s office will be deliberate in scheduling of training sessions.

“Running a training is expensive because [we] have to supply the [ammunition] and people’s pay,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Office simply wants to be able to conduct rifle and shotgun training at a more reasonable location.

“This will make it a lot easier for us because we have more access to the site,” Burgh said.

After the public hearing, the special use permit request will go in front of the county’s Law and Justice Committee, and then on to the county board for a vote.

Burgh said if the request is approved, the Sheriff’s office will work with DeKalb County Engineer Nathan Schwartz, who designed the proposed range, to get started on preparing the site in the spring or summer of 2019.

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