HAMILTON COUNTY — The Cincinnati Police Department gun range in Evendale will be relocated, after decades of complaints from residents of nearby neighborhoods.
Lincoln Heights, Woodlawn and Evendale residents have heard the sound of gunshots almost every day for 75 years.
“At the facility and this is based off a report that came from the Cincinnati Police Department in a law and public safety committee in December 2019. They shoot 300 days a year, 6 days a week, 7 hours a day, there’s 38,000 gun training hours that take place each year and they have been there for 75 years," said the Director of Programs and Special Projects with the Heights Movement Carlton Collins.
Hamilton County Commissioners announced plans for a new, regional safety complex on Tuesday. It would expand the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office's training facility in Colerain Township and create a gun range that could be used for training by local, state and federal law enforcement.
Hamilton County is putting $15 million of the county's ARPA Funds toward the new complex. The federal government is contributing $4 million and the City of Cincinnati committing $2 million for the project. Hamilton County Commissioner President Alicia Reece thinks the city could do more.
“$2 million? I’ve been at city council, I’ve been the vice mayor, I’ve been the vice chair of finance, this does not say priority," Reece said.
Reece wants this project to move at the speed of other downtown Cincinnati projects.
“This is a state of emergency I mean they shouldn’t even bring us another project until we get this one moving," Reece said. “Many children for generations have had to hear the gunshots and grow up with that."
Hamilton County Commissioners are discussing the development of the new regional safety complex that will be located in Colerain Township. They have $21 million secured for the project that will cost between $27-$42 million. @WCPO pic.twitter.com/1WshaszIYp— Jessica Hart WCPO (@JessicaHartTV) January 31, 2023
Syretha Brown has lived in Lincoln Heights her entire life. She raised her children here and is now watching her grandchildren grow up in Lincoln Heights. She grew up hearing the gunshots from the gun range on a weekly basis. At first, she didn't understand why her son didn't want to play outside until everything clicked one day.
“As a little boy he wouldn’t go outside, and I never understood why. He kept saying ‘no, it’s a war zone out there,” and I’m like boy it’s not a war zone, but I never realized or even related it to the gun range, until I started working with the heights movement," Brown said.
Back in September of 2020, local leaders rallied outside Cincinnati City Hall to ask for change. Community members said the noise isn't just a nuisance, but something negatively impacting area children.
“It’s traumatic. I don’t know if you can imagine waking up every day and hearing like sounding you’re in a warzone. I mean you’re hearing automatic weapons, you’re hearing concussion grenades. This is not just Cincinnati Police Training you’re getting federal training, state training," said Lincoln Heights Councilman Daronce Daniels.
The new facility would be an alternative to CPD's current gun range. The new complex would have a gun range, a sniping range, and a K9 Training facility.
“Our goal is to be able to break some type of ground this year," Reece said.
The project will be done in phases. Hamilton County Administrator Jeff Aluotto said the new complex will cost between $27 - $42 million. He added the county has secured $21 million, but he noted it will cost between $17-$19 million to essentially move dirt.
You can see proposed renderings of the new facility below:
Residential areas of Lincoln Heights, Evendale and Woodlawn hear the constant gunfire coming from the facility, which provides 50,000 of training a year for officers.
“When you’re dealing with those gunshots, they let off certain levels of stress that now cause adverse childhood experience," Daniels said. "These adverse childhood experiences have been going on for generations.”
In her recent State of the County address, Reece called it one of the biggest environmental issues in Hamilton County.