Chesco opens tactical firing range for first responders

Chester County Commissioners Terence Farrell, Michelle Kichline and Kathi Cozzone with President of the Chester County Police Chiefs Association, Chief Shane Clark, and Director of the Chester County Department of Emergency Services, Bobby Kagel.

SOUTH COATESVILLE — Chester County Commissioners Michelle Kichline, Kathi Cozzone and Terence Farrell were joined by more representatives of the first responder community, elected officials and the public at this week’s official opening of the county’s $16 million Law Enforcement Tactical Firing Range, located at the Public Safety Training Campus in South Coatesville.

Chester County Director of Emergency Services, Bobby Kagel and representatives from Chester County’s law enforcement community took part in the program, with support from the county’s fire and emergency medical services (EMS) communities.

In her remarks at the opening event, Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Michelle Kichline said:  “Public safety is one of the key priorities that we, as commissioners, focus upon; how to keep our residents safe, how to keep them out of danger.  One way to mitigate danger is through intensive practice and training, which is why it has been our duty to make sure the facilities, the equipment and the knowledge needed by all first responders is available. 

“The opening of this tactical firing range completes the full range of training facilities needed to fully prepare our emergency responders.”

Commissioner Kathi Cozzone commented: “Emergency service is a rewarding business, it’s an exciting business, but it is also a dangerous business.  Every aspect of the tactical firing range was designed for emergency responders by police, fire and EMS personnel, and as with the academic building and the tactical village, this facility will help to train our emergency responders in the most sophisticated and technologically-advanced ways.”

Commissioner Terence Farrell said:  “With the cutting of the ‘caution tape’ ribbon on this new tactical firing range, we recognize our training campus as a fully comprehensive facility that can be used by all first responder disciplines, separately and together. 

“Combined training, in a single facility, in our own county makes economic sense.  Ours is now a Public Safety Training Campus that is being used by first responders in surrounding counties and states as well.  They are travelling to us!”

Lieutenant Matt Herkner of West Whiteland Police Department spoke at the official opening on behalf of the law enforcement community. 

“No matter if you are a member of a small part-time or a larger full-time police department in the county, all officers will have the ability to participate in cutting-edge training at a state-of-the-art facility,” Herkner said.  “No longer will the norm be for municipalities to send their officers out of the county, or even out of the state for training.  We now have a facility where we can participate in drills while being backlit by emergency vehicle lights, while facing moving and changing threat and non-threat targets, and while having the ability to move ourselves.

“In creating this tactical firing range, our officers will receive the training they need and deserve so that, in return, they can provide the public safety that everyone in Chester County expects and is entitled to receive.”

The $16 million Chester County Law Enforcement Tactical Firing Range includes a 50-yard and 100-yard firing range, a driving simulator, a shoot-house that can be mapped out in hundreds of configurations and a firearms simulator that helps to teach “shoot don’t shoot” decision making.  With this third phase completion, the full Chester County Public Safety Training Campus includes an academic building, a tactical village, a tactical firing range, an alternate 9-1-1 center and a back-up Emergency Operations Center. 

Since the opening of phase one in 2011, the Public Safety Training Campus has held 4,500 training events for more than 83,000 students. 

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