A renovated skeet shooting range in Kleberg County has become the newest training ground for law enforcement around the Coastal Bend thanks to work done by the Kleberg County Sheriff’s Office.
Last week, Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid said more than a year-and-a-half ago, he and Kleberg County Sheriff Richard Kirkpatrick discussed the possibility of creating a regional training facility to be used by the Kleberg County Sheriff’s Department, which would be located “adjacent to NAS-Kingsville and behind the L.E. Ramey Golf Course.”
The facility was to be used to train officers on emergency situations the KCSO would face, as well as others in the area.
As of last week, the newly renovated training grounds were officially completed using money from the KCSO’s asset forfeiture funds.
“When we first started this, it’s what I called a ‘diamond in the rough,’” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s taken on some changes but all of these changes and everything we’ve done out here has come at zero cost to the taxpayers.”
The project was done as part of the Kleberg Regional Public Safety Training and Emergency Operations Command Center project, which includes the $5.3 million renovation of the J.K. Northway Exposition Center.
The facility includes a shooting range for close-up and distance shooting and hands-on obstacle courses to train law enforcement from multiple agencies “in the best way they can.”
“I think we’re at the point where we want to incorporate all (law enforcement agencies) into one house,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s been a major undertaking. Of course the judge, myself and a lot of others have put a lot of hours into putting this thing under our belt and it’s starting to pay off. I think it’s going to be a great thing for our community.”
Kirkpatrick said the training ground will be used “pretty much on a daily basis” in cooperation with the area’s U.S. Border Patrol agents, the Texas Department of Safety officers, Kingsville Police Department officers and sheriff’s deputies from surrounding counties.
“They are welcome to come and use this facility whenever they need,” Kirkpatrick said. “This is a great venture for us. We have such a great opportunity and a wonderful site out here that we can do what we actually want to do and call it home.”
Kirkpatrick said being able to use the facility often is an advantage to all agencies involved because of the lack of opportunities to train officers on a regular basis.
“Typically, sometimes officers only get an opportunity to train once a year,” Kirkpatrick said. “Here there is such an advantage. We’re out here so much that our officers are able to take the opportunity to come out and shoot and be more proficient as time goes on. They’re at a better advantage today than they’ve ever had before.”