The Chandler Police Department has received a shot in the arm from a major firearms proponent so its officers and other law enforcement agencies throughout the Valley can be better prepared to protect themselves in dangerous situations.
The National Rifle Association awarded the Chandler’s firearms training unit a $12,500 grant that will allow improvements and reinforcements to its shoot house where officers train behind its headquarters at 250 E. Chicago St.
The shoot house, a 900-square-foot area with a mazelike setup, contains seven rooms with stationary targets behind closed doors and a moving hallway apparatus that forces officers to make split-second decisions in training for a time when they have to draw their weapon and fire at a person.
During its 10 years of existence, plywood boards covering ballistic steel sheets became riddled with bullets, deteriorated and periodically had to be replaced.
The facility has seen heavy use by numerous law enforcement agencies that have trained there, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Public Safety and Gilbert Police Department, said Sgt. Kenny Thatcher, who oversees the firearms training unit.
All of Chandler’s officers who use a weapon, including its SWAT team, will be required to undergo training in the area, Thatcher said.
The funds from the grant were received in January and are being used to install new plywood boards over ballistic steel sheets that cause bullets made of compressed copper and tin to dissolve on impact instead of sending shattered fragments of shrapnel across the room.
Thatcher said the finishing touches to the shoot house’s improvements are being installed by Utah-based Action Target and will be done within a week. They include a sliding closet door in a makeshift bedroom, reinstalling the moving target apparatus in the hallway and a sliding door cover.
“Without this grant, we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” Thatcher said. “It’s all about keeping officers and citizens safe. When these targets come around a corner, sometimes it might be a gun, other times it might be a beer can. Officers have to make that quick decision as whether or not to shoot.
“Officers respond to alarm calls every day, and they always have to be prepared for what they could be facing.”