City Government

Cop Shooting Range Has Sordid History


No doubt about it, Boise coppers need a shooting range to maintain a safe standard of proficiency with their weapons to protect themselves and the public. That’s a given. However, when the biggest county sheriff’s department, state coppers and others are able to use an existing facility in the desert, it calls into question the justification for a “state-of-the-art” range in the heart of the city.

Boise PD plans to spend $1.32 million over the next four years to build the proposed new facility which neighbors oppose.

Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney told the GUARDIAN his deputies, the Idaho State Police, and the Peace Officers Academy all do their shooting qualification and practice at a range operated by the Idaho Department of Corrections on Pleasant Valley Rd. The cost for Ada County: $1500 per year.

Boise’s own planning and zoning commission denied an application Monday for construction of improvements at the existing city range which is surrounded by high-end homes. The action was at a public hearing which was apparently just another chapter in the saga of deceit. Residents opposed the improvements for many reasons. The P&Z commishes agreed.

According to the Idaho Statesman story of the P&Z meeting, “The police department’s legal counsel has concluded the city is exempt from standard permitting requirements, Capt. Randy Roper said. Boise engaged in the process only as a gesture to people who live near the range, Roper said.” He said the city would appeal the commission’s decision.

Capt. Roper’s description of a “gesture” to folks living near the range conjure’s up at least one gesture using a finger.

The current facility which the city wants to expand and improve has a sordid history of a devastating fire, deceitful investigations, questionable real estate/financial transactions, and an attempt to “de-annex” city-owned land from the city. The ground is simply full of bad karma.
Smith and Wesson .38 caliber snub nose revolver.
Built in 1960 on city land in what was once the barren foothills, the range was owned for years by the Boise Police Association. Part of the facility included the “clubhouse.” It was a loose arrangement with the city regarding just exactly what was owned by the coppers and what was owned by the city. Eventually the city leased the shooting range. During that 1996 period an off duty copper with tracer rounds in his National Guard M-16 was suspected of starting a massive fire which ripped through the hills. He was cleared–at least never charged–despite overwhelming public opinion that he did indeed start the fire. It was a low point for public trust in the Boise PD.

In 2008 when current administrators of both the police and the city were unable to come to terms with the Ada County Sheriff over a joint training facility, the city decided to purchase the range and invest in improvements.

The law precludes purchases from city employees. So, in a convoluted three way real estate scheme Boise City traded land it owned at 25th and Fairview in exchange for an overvalued piece of rocky terrain off Gowen Road and the shooting range which was somehow folded into a deal with doctors who were to build a private hospital on Fairview.

The GUARDIAN cried “foul,” questioned a 4-year-old “declaration of surplus property” (on the Fairview parcel), the value of the Gowen Rd. portion of the trade and a “receipt of gift”–all aimed at getting the foothills shooting range without public comment.

As it turned out, St. Lukes hospital bought out the doctors to prevent competition from a private facility. The Fairview land is still vacant and the city has an outdated shooting range in need of improvements and a lot off Gowen that is useless.

The legal staff realized the shooting range was a “non-conforming use,” and it stood little chance of approval, so it was suggested the city actually de-annex their own ground, returning it to county jurisdiction to get around their own rules! That didn’t happen.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Not to mention the PIO called the current range “very good” — exact quote.

    So why are we upgrading?

  2. The ground is also full of lead… which will need to be cleaned up according to the EPA. What does the DEQ think? Buyer Beware!!

    I like the old arrangement and think there are too many laws and lawyers making simple things like this overly complicated. Why is a new place needed? The city is no bigger in population. Only the budget is bigger.

    See Detroit and Cali for an example of Team Dave’s future. The people with money will move away from your grubby-handed Cali-style tax-n-spend.

  3. Something about The City of Boise leaders that prevents them from playing nice. They would not need a facility if they could work out a shared use agreement with the County. Is the City wasting citizen dollars because they can not cooperate or falsely think they have to have their own facility of every type, when other city/counties frequently share.

    What about Meridian and Garden City, what do their police do.

    Let’s review some other agencies the City can’t play nice with:

    ACHD on several projects and it has become personal and nasty on both sides

    Boise PD moved out of the joint Sheriff/BPD police station

    Boise BPD “leasing” police and equipment to Boise County highways bypassing ITD State Patrol and jurisdiction

    Boise and the County Courthouse argument (land deal and/or who is paying their share for court services)

    City of Boise and Sheriff, again who is paying their fair share for jail and bookings

    State of Idaho and their parking garage

    Now we can add the shooting range to growing list of agencies and issues the City of Boise can’t work with.

  4. Who is going to go after other cops? That is what they depend on… no one going after them… and god forbid anyone speak up against the thuggery lest you incur the wrath. We need an independent body “with teeth” to police these guys. Since they prove time and time again they are not willing to abide by the same rules they enforce.

  5. HAHAHAHAAHAHAHA. Well maybe SOMEONE in the know should DO something then. But a very nice lead in for your article.

  6. I do not understand the bad karma argument. The Simplot soccer fields are built on an old landfill. No one complains about that. The fields seem to work just fine with all the improvements there.
    The current facts are the City owns the property now. The range is “Grandfathered” in to being a range without having to go through all the EPA requirements for a new outdoor range some place. When Sheriff Raney proposed a new state of the art range for all the police agencies in Ada County to share, the homeowners near the current County Range complained loudly. Raney immediately went into political cover and pulled the idea off the table. So like it or not, it is up to the citizens of Boise to provide a suitable facility. Boise is only going to grow and with that growth will come more urban problems requiring a high level of training for the police. It is sure easy to point fingers at the police crying “poor training” every time there is an officer involved shooting. Where is the advocacy for providing a suitable facility? Just in case you are curious, I do not work for BPD.

    EDITOR NOTE–Smeg, the first line and last line of the story say they need a proper training facility. The issue at hand is the bumbling manner in which the city has performed. For a Capt. to say the hearing was just a “gesture” and cops are exempt from the law flies in the face of having the hearing at all. All the leases and trades were aimed at not having to go out for bids or allow the public to participate.

  7. Why not someplace out in the desert….like Blacks Creek

    EDITOR NOTE–Check out the update at the end of the original post. Sheriff pays $1500 a year to shoot at the prison.

  8. The problem with the IDOC range becomes scheduling. Boise would add somewhere around 300 officers right? It gets difficult to schedule around each other, just not big enough. Unless the state would give an opportunity to BPD to expand out there, then they might have a chance.

  9. Grumpy ole Guy
    Aug 13, 2013, 8:06 pm

    So many questions, so few answers. Which police forces train where? Does the Police Academy in Meridian have it’s own range? Where is it located, how much and often is it used, by whom. In Ada County how many law enforcement agencies are there? Ada Sheriff, Meridian City, Boise City, But what Federal forces are there? Marshall’s, what are their continuing training requirements and where do they train. Do the TSA agents require continuous training? Where, how much? If the City Police range is used for private functions, such as a retirement party, is there a fee/charge for this, how much, where does the money go? If not, why not?
    Are the Kuna, Star and Eagle policing duties covered by the Ada County Sheriff’s office, or by another agency? If a different agency, where do they train? Who pays for their training?
    Do the County Jail employees train at the State prison or at the Boise City site?
    Is the Juvenile facility a City, County or State facility? where do those guards train?

    Really seems to me that some sort of (you should forgive the expression) a joint facility, makes the greatest amount of sense.

    EDITOR NOTE–As stated, ISP, ACSO, ACADEMY, all train at the prison range. Others train there as well. TSA is not “law enforcement,” so they don’t carry weapons. After the sale by the Boise Police Association, the facility ceased to have parties and rent of the clubhouse. Kuna, Star, Eagle are all Ada Sheriff contract deals. ALL Ada training is at the corrections site, but jail officers do not carry weapons. Juvenile is a county function under the commishes–again no weapons. All coppers whether corrections, jailers, ISP, BPD have to pass “POST CERTIFICATION (Peace Officers Standards Training). Most go to the academy, but ISP and BPD sometimes have their own academy when they have enough new hires.

  10. King Dave is using the raises the police gave up last yr and for 1.3 mil they should be able to set up a carney shooting range with the electric Bunny rabbits on a wheel, and if the cop hits one he gets 5 bucks a month raise. Why don’t they use the facility to teach proper gun shooting, it could pay for itself and people would get a stuffed rabbit if they hit the target, smaller gun, bigger the bunny, using an Uzi, small rabbit

  11. How many times do we see redundancy in local Government; competing (yet virtually identical) interests; rising taxes with declining efficiency. We’re all hung up on these various jurisdictions we call “counties”, or “cities” – and pay dearly for that distinction with duplicative services, infrastructure and administration. Maybe it’s time to rethink this, and have one entity that deals with it all – presumably in a more efficient manner. In the case of Boise – where most of the county is in fact, the city of Boise – why not abolish the whole concept of “county” government? Or vice versa. Redundancy only fulfills the desires of politicians and bureaucrats- not citizens. Idle thoughts….

  12. Perhaps a better headline for this particular article should be “Sordid cops have history at shooting range”. I’m sure it will take on new meaning very shortly.

  13. Casmir! YES!

  14. Is this needed because of the excessive amount of rounds the cops use when they do have to use their guns? Think of the money our community will save on cop ammo with the new range to hone their shooting skills.

  15. A little off topic here, but the statement that the lot at 27th and Fairview is vacant is not entirely accurate. It’s being used as a parking lot, by whom I don’t know. It appears St Lukes has made some agreement with a rental car company and they store their cars there. Sometimes there are many cars and then they disappear but it’s almost never entirely vacant.

    So, here’s the rub, it’s a violation of city code to use unpaved ground as permanent parking. Maybe the BoiseGuardian could look into this? Oh, and then there’s the goathead problem there and at the city’s 30th and Main property.

  16. Try and build an un- paved driveway in Boise. Cynic has a point about the car transfer lot. the good thing is when it rains the water goes into the ground and not into the storm drains.

    The city should have a citizen wide goathead alert to start digging now before they drop their seeds. I have seen massive GH mats all over this town. I’m all for GH fines for govt’ , business and homeowners letting GH grow unchecked.

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