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US: Shooting range closure prevents dozens of DPS officers from renewing gun certifications

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The sudden closure of Oahu’s only public shooting range is preventing dozens of state Department of Public Safety personnel from being able to renew their firearms certifications.

The sudden closure of Oahu’s only public shooting range is preventing dozens of state Department of Public Safety personnel from being able to renew their firearms certifications. © Provided by Honolulu KHNL The sudden closure of Oahu’s only public shooting range is preventing dozens of state Department of Public Safety personnel from being able to renew their firearms certifications.

DPS employees tasked with carrying a gun are generally required to renew their weapons certification every year.

But as the closure drags on, extensions are being granted, Hawaii News Now has learned.

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Members of the Department of Public Safety are a critical part of keeping the public safe, from serving warrants to securing the perimeter at Halawa prison and patrolling Honolulu’s airport and other duties.

And for many, carrying a gun is part of the job.

But DPS officials say the extended closure of Koko Head Shooting Complex has prevented 32 personnel from being able to obtain or renew their firearms certification.

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The department says some of those employees are currently on unassociated leave and would need to recertify upon return to duty.

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The city abruptly closed the range in mid-September after tests showed almost its entire staff had elevated lead levels. Now multiple investigations are underway into worker safety and potential environmental impacts.

Meanwhile, the city confirms it’s hired Arizona-based contractor Kramer One to examine the complex.

“So we started discussions with Kramer One and said we want to bring you in here. We want you to take a look at these ranges,” said Department of Parks and Recreation Director Laura Thielen, at a recent Hawaii Kai neighborhood board meeting.

“We want you to make recommendations to us based on what we should do going forward. Mostly the operations. As well as any improvements.”

The city says the company is expected to do a site visit some time in December.

There’s no timeline for when the shooting complex could reopen.

“We’re working with HPD on this contract because a portion of the range is used by HPD,” Thielen said.

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“And we’ve also been in communication with the Department of Public Safety because they use a portion of the range for practice as well.”

Because HPD has its own range, officials say there hasn’t been much impact on the police.

In a statement, spokesperson HPD Michelle Yu:

“The Koko Head Shooting Complex closure has had minimal impact on HPD’s firearms training since firearms certification for new officers and recertification for current officers are conducted at the department’s indoor range at the Ke Kula Makai training academy in Waipahu. Some of HPD’s specialized units, such as the Specialized Services Division and Crime Reduction Units, used to use KHSC when it was open. These units are temporarily using alternative locations.”

Public Safety says the closure “did create some challenges for the scheduling of the Department of Public Safety’s firearms qualification and certification on Oahu.”

The agency said it’s in the process of securing alternate range sites beginning in January.

In a statement, the department continued:

“DPS has the authority to extend certification up to six months” and that the department is “committed to ensuring that all necessary qualifications and certifications are met in a timely manner.”

The closure of Koko Head Shooting Complex does not impact department training and qualification for DPS employees on the neighbor islands.

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