Richochet issue to get outside examination

By Burk Krohe

Riley County Police Department Director Brad Schoen said Thursday his department is trying to get the ball rolling on the issues of ricocheting bullets and Fake Patty’s Day. The director addressed those concerns at Thursday morning’s Board of Riley County Commissioners meeting.

Ricocheting bullets from RCPD’s training range southeast of Manhattan have caused concern from workers at Bayer Construction Co, Inc., which owns a quarry and landfill adjacent to the range. The concerns put pressure on RCPD to investigate the issue.

The ricochets, which are unintentional, come from the pistol area of the range. That is where officers shoot north toward a 60-foot tall berm (mound of dirt), separating the range from Bayer’s property.

The department’s lease on the range runs through 2018, and Schoen said he wants to give the county options when the lease expires.

To accomplish that goal, the RCPD has signed an agreement with TRS Range Services, a firing range consulting and construction firm with offices in Eagle, Idaho and Charleston, S.C., to evaluate the range. Other measures were taken as well.

“We’ve done a number of things,” Schoen said. “We went down to Shawnee County and looks at theirs and did some research on firms that specialize in that sort of construction.”

Schoen said the agreement will bring TRS up to Manhattan, for a fee of $3,000, to do a range study and make some preliminary recommendations. There is not an exact date for the visit yet, but RCPD believes a visit this month is possible.

Schoen said the department also asked TRS about safety concerns regarding ricochets.

“They laughed,” Schoen said. “They said those things aren’t going to hurt anyone.” At the same time, Schoen said he understands the concern and admitted the firm’s opinion probably won’t stop people from worrying.

RCPD is also having a more open dialogue with the city and Aggieville Business Association *ABA) about Fake Patty’s Day, the annual, unofficial drinking event that takes place before St. Patrick’s Day.

“They (city commissioners) were fairly adamant to make the right thing happen,” Schoen said.

Last week, the City Commission asked that the city, county, RCPD and ABA work together to make Fake Patty’s a controlled festival. Schoen said the RCPD has been working to that end. He said the department has seen more open communication between the entities than years past and was encouraged that talks are moving forward.

However, he added that the final decision will not rest with the RCPD.

“Where it goes is not up to us,” Schoen said. “Ultimately, a recommendation is going to come out of the ABA.”

Schoen said the department will respect whatever decision is made.

“Our job is to do whatever we can with the tools we have,” Schoen said.

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