Wilton Transfer Station being considered for regional police firing range

WILTON — The town’s police officers have been using some of the extra acres at the transfer station as an outdoor firing range since the indoor one is outdated and can no longer be used for training.

There’s a chance this outdoor site could be built up and become an official regional police firing range if selected by the 10 or so communities looking to team up on the effort.

Wilton First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, acting secretary of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCOG), said discussions initially began between Wilton, New Canaan and Ridgefield on the regional firing range.

Now, Vanderslice said, the first selectmen of the three towns have brought in “more than 10 communities with project management by Michael Towle of WestCOG and a project committee which includes Wilton’s Captain Tom Conlan.”

Conversations for a shared range began after a consensus was reached that Wilton's new police headquarters would not include a firing range. The current police building has an outdated firing range that hasn’t been used in “probably 15 years,” according to Officer David Hartman. It has since been used as an extra storage room.

“We did not include a firing range in the proposed police headquarters,” Vanderslice said. “We instead sought a shared firing range as it is a better model financially and in terms of the types of firearms training that can occur.”

In addition to the omission of a firing range in the new Wilton Police Department proposal, a firing range that had been used by a number of nearby police departments “was recently closed, resulting in new interest beyond the original three communities,” Vanderslice explained.

New Canaan has also recently proposed a new police headquarters to be built on the same location as its current building. This plan also doesn’t include a firing range.

A study has since been performed to determine which community is the most central in terms of distance from police headquarters as well as from officers’ homes. The two communities identified were Wilton and Newtown.

“Through WestCOG, two different grant applications are being submitted to fund possible regional firing ranges in Wilton and Newtown,” Vanderslice said.

The specific location is being narrowed down to a plot of land at the town’s transfer station. “Excess acreage at the Transfer Station would serve as the proposed Wilton site,” the first selectwoman said. The Wilton Police Department already uses the area as an outdoor range in lieu of having an indoor range to train in.

Wilton Police Chief John Lynch, Newtwon Chief David Kullgren and Vanderslice will be serving as “project champions” and serve as spokespersons for the project. Wilton’s Lt. Gregg Phillipson has also been added as a member of the regional firing range project committee. Phillipson is also the current leader of the regional SWAT team, “so he brings that additional perspective to the group,” Vanderslice said.