Police in Tampa say they've found a way to minimize the environmental impact from bullets at its new state-of-the-art gun training facility, on which the Tampa Police Department broke ground Wednesday.
The range comes with a price tag of $5.4 million and will include a system that automatically gathers and recycles lead bullets. That system will be installed by Action Target out of Provo, Utah and will cost $689,000. The facility will also include a target area with more than 40 shooting lanes, a classroom and a "shoot house," which will be used help officers recreate complex, real-life scenarios.
But the steep price tag won't be paid for by taxpayers– at least not directly. Police will use the money seized from alleged criminals and drug dealers to cover the cost.
Aside from its clever source of funding, the new training facility will also save officers time and money because the location is about 25 miles closer to the city than the gun range police currently use.
And Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said that makes the project well worth the cost.
"By avoiding the drive, it will keep our officers out on our streets, and what's even better is that the bad guys are the ones paying for the construction," Buckhorn said, WTSP-TV reported.
Costs for transportation, range fees and enough time for officers to make the drive to and from the range that is currently used adds up to about $265,000 per year. Going by that math alone, the project will pay for itself in 21 years.
But not everyone is sold on the move.
As city council member Yvonne Yolie Capin pointed out, "Five million is a lot of money." And council member Mary Mulhern suggested the project could be seen as a step toward "militarizing" police. However, both Capin and Mulhern were outnumbered by their other five colleagues on the city council.
The Tampa Bay Times reported the city has 994 sworn officers, each of whom are required by the state of Florida to meet service weapon qualification standards once per year.
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