Gulfport public safety complex resembles 'fortress' - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport public safety complex resembles 'fortress'

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -  Police officers in Gulfport are counting down the days, looking forward to moving-in to the city's new public safety center. The $22 million project downtown is set to open this fall.

Not only will the 74,000 square foot building be the headquarters for police and the municipal court, the fortified structure will also serve as an emergency shelter for first responders.

The sheer size of the new public safety complex commands attention. Stately columns are the most noticeable features in a building design that favors function over fancy.   

With so much concrete, the project may be best described as "fortress-like."

"That's exactly why it's built the way it is," said Project Manager Johnny Olsen. "It's pre-cast concrete construction. It's all fortified. The windows are designed to withstand 200 mile per hour winds. There's back-up water and sewer capability."

"It is roughly 74,000 square feet designed to meet FEMA 361 standards, which if you're not familiar with, is a community shelter. But this will be designed for first responders rather than for the general public.  So, it will house all of the first responders for the city in a time of crisis," said Olsen.

Not only is this project built to withstand strong storms, but since this is a headquarters for police and the courts, security issues were also a big part of the building's design.

For example: prisoner holding cells.

"Concrete masonry, reinforced. All of your walls, windows, doors are security glass, security frames," said Olsen, as he gave a tour inside the structure.

Spacious courtrooms fill a portion of the first floor.

"When you walk in, you'll have a reception desk right here in front of you. There will be a greeter. There will be windows over here where you can pay fines or request police reports," Olsen explained.

Gulfport police can't wait to move in. They've been making do with a temporary headquarters in the old 28th Street Elementary School.

"We've made the best of it. It's not worth complaining about," said Gulfport Police Officer Adam Cooper. "We do have a very nice building going up downtown. It's going to be nice having more room. A lot more space and not in an old building that was pretty heavily damaged by Katrina.  It's very nice and I know we're excited to get in there."

The public safety center is named in memory of Gulfport Police Officer Rob Curry. He was killed in a motorcycle accident on Highway 49 two years ago.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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