PPCC range

The Pikes Peak Community College range in 2016.

Colorado Springs Police Department will partner with Pikes Peak Community College to overhaul the college's shooting range and soon will ink a 30-year agreement with two 20-year options to extend the deal.

Police Chief Vince Niski says the agreement ends an era of turmoil as officers often had to train at various locations.

Niski outlined the new program for City Council during its Sept. 27 meeting, saying the city will invest $5 million in the PPCC range, located at 5675 S. Academy Blvd. on the southeast side of the campus, in the agreement's first five years.

About five years ago, CSPD, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and Fountain Police Department collaborated on a plan to establish a shooting range and training area for other law enforcement skills at the Pikes Peak International Raceway about 10 miles south of Colorado Springs.

PPCC wanted those agencies to find another place, college officials said at the time, because gunfire can retraumatize veterans and make it hard for school officials to know whether an active shooter is on the loose.

Niski told Council that PPIR set aside 18 acres of land, but funding became an insurmountable problem.

"We hit a lot of road blocks with cost and access getting into our range, while they still had 180 acres around that property," Niski said.

Meantime, the Sheriff's Office has been using the Cheyenne Mountain Complex near Fort Carson. Sheriff's spokesperson Deborah Mynatt said via email, "No plans to move elsewhere, we are happy with the range we have."

But CSPD officers have used a variety of sites to maintain proficiency with firearms, including the Air Force Academy, a range off Highway 94 and the Cheyenne complex, Nicki said.

So Niski reopened talks with PPCC officials about four months ago, seeking to have his officers train at the PPCC facility in exchange for significant upgrades.

"Rather than build a whole new range, it seemed opportunistic for us to redo that range," he said.

The city will pump $5 million into the facility, including building the CSPD's own classroom at a site that sustained significant flood damage from torrential rains some years ago. According to backup information provided to Council, the money will come from certificates of participation, a type of borrowing that satisfies Taxpayer's Bill of Rights stipulations, and the city's Public Safety Sales Tax and general fund.

The agreement also calls on the city to revamp two ranges into a single range with 30 firing lines, install a new target system, do some landscaping and improve a third range.

PPCC will work on erosion issues and deal with improvements to the existing classroom.

The city also will work on improving the parking lot and create a sound barrier, and build a "shoot house" that would "allow for realistic firearm scenario training," as well as build concrete shelter canopies for two handgun ranges and for a 100-yard range, according to the IGA.

The college hopes to add a driving track for police training in future years. The two entities will share operational and maintenance costs.

"We’re getting in on the front end of a good collaboration," Niski said. "It seems like an important partnership for both of us."

Senior Reporter

Pam Zubeck is a graduate from Emporia State University. She worked at the Tulsa Tribune before coming to Colorado Springs, where she spent 16 years at the Gazette and in 2009 joined Colorado Publishing House.