OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - One walk through the downtown Ocean Springs Police Department, and you quickly realize this is a building that has seen better days. Light fixtures are stained from leaking rainwater, ceiling tiles are falling in, there's no place to store police equipment, and there's no closet space for uniforms and jackets. The fingerprint station is in a crowded hallway, and three of the five jail cells aren't operational.
Captain William Jackson heads up the patrol department. He said moving into a new public safety center will do the rank and file officers a world of good.
"I believe it's going to raise the morale up, everybody will be able to get their work done more efficiently and more effectively and in a timely manner instead of patrol units using one computer to file all their reports on," Jackson said.
But it's also a matter of safety. A booking room the size of a walk-in closet poses special challenges.
"People in here that we have to book in, some of them are minor offenses, some of them have severe offenses," traffic officer Lt. Bucky Harris said. "So you bring them back here, you get into a fight. As you see how tight these quarters are, it becomes a safety issue."
Even though the Ocean Springs Police Department is moving further to the east, to a brand new state of the art facility, it is not entirely giving up its downtown location. The courtroom in the current building is going to be renovated into a new substation for the downtown area.
The land where the new $7 million public safety center will be built is four miles from downtown. The dirt has been turned, but police officers can hardly wait for the first sights and sounds of construction to begin, and the days of better law enforcement to begin as well.