GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Walking down the hallways of the Gautier Police Department, it's hard not to notice that the building has seen better days. The tiny dispatch room is barely big enough for three people. And there are rooms filled with boxes, missing ceiling tiles, even an occasional ladder.
All that is about to change. An empty electronics store building on Highway 90 will be the future home of law enforcement in the city.
The original police department served its purpose, even made it through Hurricane Katrina in pretty good shape. But the old building can't compare with what the new building offers: lots and lots of space
Mayor Tommy Fortenberry was once a police officer himself, and is looking forward to a little more breathing room.
"The word is space. It's going to be a lot more space across the street," the mayor said. "We'll almost double in size and that's important. I believe it gives a better professional image of the city of Gautier."
Police Chief Eddie Williams remembers the original move-in day back in 1989, when there were a lot fewer people in the building.
"We brought around 25 officers and staff and our court personnel when we moved into here, and pretty much everyone had an office. From that day forward, we just started filling them up and we're at 53 employees now."
One of those new employees is Patrol Officer Diane Schmid. She can hardly wait to set foot in the new building.
"It's been a long time coming for Gautier," Schmid said. "We're looking forward to the extra room that we will have. A place that we can be proud of, a place that we can bring our citizens and be proud of it."
And a place with a lot more room for future growth. City court will also be housed in the new building.
City officials will spend $750,000 to buy the building and another $400,000 to renovate the interior. The money comes from a previously passed bond issue.
The building should be ready by next February.