Hamlet officials want some more information before agreeing to let the Starke County Sheriff’s Department use the gun range at the town’s sewer plant. In a letter to town officials, Sheriff Bill Dulin offered to have his firearms instructors qualify the town’s police officers free of charge, in exchange for letting them use the range to qualify officers from other departments.
Dulin said Starke County would assume liability if anything goes wrong while its instructors are on-site. During last week’s town council meeting, Council President Dave Kesvormas asked whether the sheriff can legally promise that. “It gets shaky because if he’s saying he’s going to assume the liability and he doesn’t have the authority to do so, that’s one issue,” Kesvormas said. “The other is if someone does get hurt out there, they’re going to go after everybody.”
Hamlet officials believe the town’s insurance policy only allows Hamlet officers to use the gun range. Town Marshal Clint Norem pointed out that the sheriff’s department has used the facility in the past to qualify Hamlet officers.
Council members stressed that they had no problem with formally allowing the sheriff’s department to use the gun range, as long as the county’s liable and town officials know when they plan to be there. “I just don’t want people in and out of that sewer plant, just anybody in and out, because there’s things in there,” Kesvormas added. “We have to protect that sewer plant because it is an entity. It is a municipal piece of equipment. I just don’t want anybody just floating around down there, especially with a gun.”
Town Attorney Martin Bedrock agreed to discuss the issue with the county’s attorney, Marty Lucas. Clerk-Treasurer Kristina Pitts was asked to check with the town’s insurance provider, while Town Marshal Norem agreed to update the sheriff on the town’s concerns.