Since 1996, the Amsterdam Police Department has used its indoor shooting range as a storage area.
Chief Greg Culick gave a tour of the facility Thursday and pointed out the potential for the space.
“It’s only been cleaned up to this point, guys,” joked Culick. “The targeting systems, they’re going to be integrated with the control board. So they’re going to read and when they turn a key or a lever up there there’s going to be a strobing, a lighting system, and the targets will turn, and whatnot.”
The shooting range that sits underneath the police department building was built in 1972 and at the time was state-of-the-art. Today, there’s water damage and some of the equipment had actually begun to melt. It’s been used to store everything from police and fire gear to Halloween decorations.
In the mid-90s the facility was closed after testing showed elevated lead levels, blamed on a poor ventilation system. The department has had to bring its officers elsewhere to train at outdoor ranges, and only during warm months.
But with a new $285,000 in state funding, the range will be operational once more. Half will go toward remediation and a new ventilation system, the other toward new range equipment.
State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara said he toured the police department building with Chief Culick three years ago and has worked to secure the grant.
“We saw many things. We saw many operational items, many things that needed investments and that’s when we began talking about the firing range behind me. This is something that I saw as a very unique facility, a unique training facility,” said Santabarbara.
The chief noted that with overtime costs and payments made to bring officers to outdoor ranges, about $30,000 is taken out of the department’s training budget.
Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa, a former police officer who qualified at this shooting range years ago, hopes the range will be opened up to departments across the region.
“Maybe Fulton County, Montgomery County, who currently don’t have a facility such as this,” said Villa. “And as the chief spoke, as this program gets onboard and we get settled in, possibly to the public, which would be a great asset to qualify firearms owners.”
Chief Culick said the new range will allow officers to train 24/7 and will help enhance public safety.
“So the guys can absolutely sharpen their skills and say ‘OK, stay at the ready’ and learn all those skills so we don’t have a bad shoot.”