When the Thomson police need to practice shooting their firearms for recertification, they currently have to travel to a range in Augusta. Thanks to efforts from Thomson Police Chief John Hathaway, that's about to change.
The McDuffie County Commission held a public hearing on Feb. 21 to find out what citizens thought of local officers having a place for firearm training inside the county.
The new range - which will be located adjacent to the water treatment plant on the Lincolnton Highway - is expected to be a huge help to officers, Chief Hathaway said.
"The state has mandated, as of Jan. 1 of this year that every law enforcement officer that has arrest powers will qualify on a state-required course," he said. "...In my opinion, if they're saying that this is what we've got to do, then we need to provide a place for the officers to train and then qualify."
McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall agrees.
"I'm sure that we will be using it and participating because now everybody has to qualify. It would be a good thing, and I'm definitely for it" he said.
According to Chief Hathaway many officers from across the area already train and qualify at the academy in Augusta. The new range would keep TPD officers and McDuffie County deputies from having to travel to take part in overfilled classes.
"I don't know when in the world they'd work you in or how they'd do that. It'd just be a lot of people in one spot," Chief Hathaway said. "So I'm looking at the convenience of having our own place to train and to qualify to avoid the congestion of trying to do it at the academy in Augusta."
He added that the range would be located in a secluded, wooded area that should not bother residents. He also said the training would not take place at night or throughout the year.
"I see no danger of any person or house being affected by it," Chief Hathaway said. "...It's not something that we go out there and train every day to do. We're talking about getting this done once a year, so maybe in a month we'd have time to go out there and practice and get ready and then qualify."