Amy Cheng

A new shooting range in Hamden that breaks ground next Thursday will provide opportunities for Yale Police Department officers to practice amid complaints that the department does not offer sufficient resources for training.

The range, constructed specifically so that New Haven police officers can practice shooting, is slated to replace the current facility at 710 Sherman Parkway. University spokesman Tom Conroy said Yale officers will be able to use the venue for their firearms practice. Members of the Yale Police Benevolent Association, the union for YPD’s 65 patrolmen and six detectives, have voiced concerns that they do not have a regular shooting range to practice it, even though their jobs may depend on them passing a yearly firearms test.

However, NHPD spokesman David Hartman said that although other agencies can use the current shooting range, the NHPD has been limiting such use in order to reduce noise disturbances caused to the surrounding neighborhood. Located in Newhallville, the current range sits across the street from a high school and residential blocks. Responding to community concerns, Hartman said, the NHPD no longer practices shooting at night and has been cutting back on the training schedule.

“We’re doing our best to be good neighbors,” he said. “We’ve been trying to limit the time, schedule officers together so that there’s less frequent noise. We can’t not train.”

Though the University did not participate in the new range’s development, Yale has always “maintained a collaborative relationship with the NHPD on many fronts,” Conroy said.

According to Mike Hall, the YPBA spokesman and a YPD officer, YPD routinely practiced at the current NHPD range five years ago, before booking appointments became increasingly difficult. Calling the range “dilapidated,” Hall said YPD officers would show up at for their scheduled practice slot, but were turned away at the door because the range had to host other training sessions.

“It [had] been becoming an issue where we should move away from there and get somewhere better suited for the officers,” Hall said.

According to Hartman, the new range is situated on the site of a former Army Reserve building and officers already use part of the facility for exercises. The new shooting range will be indoors and will likely open for use within the next year, though more specifics are not yet known, he said. Hartman added that many shooting ranges built for modern police departments include simulation stations for officers to shoot at video, rather than physical, targets.

These features are all upgrades from the NHPD’s current outdoor range, which has its fair share of problems, he said.

“The equipment doesn’t amount to much,” he said. “The metal frames to hold the targets are in deplorable condition, the railroad tracks leading up to the targets are all chewed up.”

He added that officers cannot be expected to shoot on target while standing outside for hours during subfreezing conditions. The department must also currently rent a target simulator for a month at a time so that officers can practice on it.

While NHPD officers must complete a state firearms qualification every few years, Hartman said the department also requires officers to pass an annual test as well as participate in regular training.

The Wintergreen Avenue site, which will include the future shooting range, is six acres large.