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Leaders: Pelham Bay Park firing range and facility in need of building upgrades

Community leaders tour Rodman’s Neck NYPD range and facility

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The New York Police Department held an open house’at its Rodman’s Neck facility for community leaders, who received a first-hand experience in its training and conditions.

Coming on the heals of word from the department that Rodman’s Neck would remain open and about $150 million would be invested there, the NYPD invited members of the 45th Precinct Community Council, the City Island Chamber of Commerce, and the City Island Civic Association to the facility in Pelham Bay Park on Thursday, January 29.

Attendees toured the entire range, the ‘tactical village’ and bomb detonation facility, which includes some 40 buildings that are “permanent temporary” structures, said council president Robert Bieder.

He said that when another council board member, John Doyle, reached out to the NYPD for more information about the new administrative building and other improvements slated there, the NYPD then offered the tour.

As part of the trek, the attendees used a virtual reality simulator that trains police officers on the level of physical force to use in given situations.

They interacted with images on the simulator screen, said Bieder, who added that the simulator featured a broad range of situations from scofflaws jumping train station turnstiles to violent criminals.

“(At Rodman’s Neck), they give police training on the usage of physical force,” said Bieder, “including whether your presence is enough, or whether you could use a nightstick, a Taser, or even a firearm.”

He added that the experience showed how police officers put their lives on the line every day.

“It was a really fascinating experience and a real eye-opener,” said Bieder.

The tour also gave members of the City Island Civic Association the chance to meet with the commanding officer and learn more about NYPD plans for greater sound abatement at the facility, something that is of great concern to surrounding communities, said Doyle, also a CICA board member.

“The civic and the chamber had the opportunity to speak with the commanding officer (a little, on the side) and have a discussion shooting range itself, and the future plans for sound abatements and environmental remediation,” he said.

Doyle said he was told that plans have been submitted to the public safety committee of the City Council.

He added that Councilman James Vacca is working on setting up a meeting on the NYPD’s proposals, a fact that the councilman’s spokesman confirmed.

The attendees who were from the City Island community were still disappointed that a 2007 deal by then-Mayor Bloomberg and former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn that would have closed most of the Rodman’s Neck facility and moved the firing range to the new NYPD Police Academy in College Point, Queens appears to be moot.

According to sources, the plan was changed perhaps as recently as October 2014, and that instead of building a new facility, the police will upgrade the existing one at Rodman’s Neck.

“We still have many questions that need to be answered,” said Doyle.

Doyle confirmed Bieder’s account of heatless buildings at the NYPD Rodman’s Neck facility which appear in need of an upgrade.

Bieder described the building conditions as those he would like to see improved for the officers and trainees who have to work there, and Doyle expressed the same sentiment.

“Obviously, the police need modernized facilities, but we had been told that they would be getting a state-of-the-art facilty in an all-in-one complex in College Point, and that the facility would be totally enclosed, so our neighbors in Queens won’t have to go through what we have gone through (with noise) in the last few decades,” he said.

Community Board 10 recently voted to approve and support the new administrative building for the police firing range in Rodman’s Neck.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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