The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday set aside $750,000 to build a law-enforcement training facility in Northwestern Montana.
The proposed Northwest Montana Regional Public Safety Training Center will include a sophisticated indoor shooting range, classrooms, and training areas for fire, hostage, and rescue scenarios.
“Our law-enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe and keep Montana the ‘Last Best Place,’” said Sen. Max Baucus in a statement. “We’ve got to ensure they have equipment they need to get the job done right and go home to their families every night.”
Funding for the training center is included in the fiscal 2009 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill, which must be approved by the full Senate and then be reconciled with a similar appropriations bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
And the federal funding is only a portion of the money needed to complete the state-of-the-art facility, area law-enforcement officials said Friday.
A committee of federal, state, and area law-enforcement agencies across Northwestern Montana are pursuing private and corporate financing to make the proposed facility a reality, said Kalispell police Chief Roger Nasset.
“Really, it’s a three-way partnership,” said Nasset in reference to efforts to enlist government, corporate, and private funding.
City officials are in talks with firearms manufacturers about absorbing some of the construction costs in exchange for use of the range as a training facility, said Nasset, who declined to identify the companies.
Nasset said the city is considering a piece of land in south Kalispell to house the range.
When officers aren’t using it for training, and firearms manufacturers aren’t using it for testing, the facility would be open to the public for a fee.
“We’re looking at a facility that would be self-sufficient,” Nasset said. “It would pay for itself after it’s built.”
But funding from the federal side appears to be the first piece that is falling into place.
“We’re really in the initial stages of this,” said Nasset, emphasizing that the project is in the assessment process now.
The total cost of the project won’t be known until law-enforcement agencies decide which needs the facility will be designed to serve, Nasset said.