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What we think: Police ideas are just a first shot

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By The Staff

We commend the Shelbyville Police Department for its consideration of a new training schedule at its firing range, a schedule that would ensure live bullets don’t fly during traditional school hours.

That sort of immediate and aggressive response is important in moments of significant public concern, and we can’t be too strong in our underscoring that this is a very important public concern.

The location of the firing range within city limits and within a half mile of two public schools and a public park – not to mention homes, businesses and other public venues – came as a surprise to many who have not been a part of the inner circles of leadership in  government or the public school system.

That it took a departed police sergeant’s carefully sharpened blade to cut to the quick of this issue is unfortunate. That should not have been necessary.

We don’t question that officers and school officials have the public’s safety in mind in every decision, but sometimes there needs to be more forethought in potentially problematic situations.

When this range was built in 1990, the area where it was located was appreciably more vacant than it is today. There was no Clear Creek Elementary to the north or Red Orchard Park to the south.

By pointing at targets that were backstopped by trees, a creek bank, berms and then farmland, Southside Elementary and houses largely were out of the firing line. Farm animals might have been more in jeopardy.

And, thankfully, there have been no accidents, tragic or otherwise, that have been made public concerning the range.

As time passed and the area around the facility developed, there was an awareness of its presence, no apparent concern that it was harmlessly placed and – more significantly – an understanding that it met legal descriptions for such locations.

You can translate that to mean this: As long as we follow the rules, we don’t really need to make a big deal out of this.

But now this is a big deal, a big deal that must go away, but it will not do so on its own.

No matter the location of schools and the topography of the ground, a city growing as Shelbyville has in the past two decades should have no place for an outdoor firing range within its city limits. This facility is both a danger and a nuisance of the greatest order.

Yes, it would be difficult to put the real estate around it to any other useful purpose. Yes, it would be challenging to construct a new facility that would be both adequate and affordable.

Those and many questions must be asked, but the status quo cannot be the answer to any of them.

Yes, by all means let’s change the schedules for using the range. The danger in that is a new complacency, because schools are seldom empty these days, no matter what the calendar says, and parks draw traffic at all times, too.

What we must have here is a far-sighted plan for the range.

The Shelbyville City Council must point all its firepower at this target, and let there no be no cease fire until this range is out of range.