Chicago-area police shooting range to close after guns stolen; 50 departments affected.

A Harvey Police Department shooting range where 25 weapons were…

A Harvey Police Department shooting range where 25 weapons were stolen last month is set to close for good next week, despite a plea from the city to keep the range open.

The park district has been leasing the land where the outdoor gun range is located, at 153rd Street and Campbell Avenue, to the city for $1 a year for more than a decade, park district commissioners said.

More than 50 police departments use the shooting range for free to qualify their officers on assault weapons, Harvey spokeswoman Sandra Alvarado said. Harvey also has an agreement with Chicago, whose officers use the range once a week in exchange for training Harvey police cadets for free, Alvarado said.

Before the May 8 gun range break-in, commissioners had safety concerns and voted against renewing the lease with the city, Park District President Keith Price said. The lease expires next week. Law enforcement agencies have used the shooting range since the early 1990s, Alvarado said.

“We were getting a lot of calls about late (night) shootings” and ricocheting bullets hitting homes, Price said.

Harvey is seeking state and federal grants to improve safety at the shooting range, Alvarado said. The city wants to build a new facility for classroom training, install cameras that police dispatchers would monitor and add a high-rise covering over the berms officers shoot into, she said.

Now, officers must use the Harvey Police Department squad room for large classes, and nothing covers the berms, Alvarado said.

The city is negotiating with the park district to renew the lease, the spokeswoman said. But commissioners and park district attorney Stanley Hill say the shooting range will close June 30.

Three boys, ages 14, 15 and 16, have been charged with breaking into the shooting range and stealing about two dozen weapons, including handguns and AR-15 assault rifles, authorities said.

Source: Kristen Schorsch for Chicago Breaking News.

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