PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) – Records Clerk Gloria Sanders is juggling two jobs these days -- settling into her new office while trying to conduct police business. Sanders and her co-workers have waited too long to finally move out of cramped trailers.
"Prior to that we were in a horse trailer," said Sanders. "So every time we've moved, we've moved up. But this time, it looks like we've really moved up and so we're excited about that."
The new Pass Christian Police headquarters on Espy Avenue is safer, stronger, and the technology is state-of-the-art. It's surrounded by solid concrete. The walls, ceilings, even the roof are reinforced.
When asked to describe the new building, Chief John Dubuisson said: "A dream come true. That says it all right there."
Chief Dubuisson says the security system is top-notch. Cameras are mounted throughout the building.
"The whole building, 24 hours, seven days a week, is under some sort of surveillance," he said. "Security locks on each door. We didn't have that sort of system in the old station."
The two holding cells now have restrooms and drains in case the floors need to be washed. There's plenty of storage space and enough rooms to conduct investigations and training.
A locked drop-box allows officers a secure place to leave evidence. And once officers drop off people they've arrested, the gates around the port immediately close.
"Once you get them inside, they're yours. They're not getting out," said the chief.
The building also doubles as the city's Emergency Operations Center, with a full-size kitchen, meeting space, offices for city leaders, and work stations for city employees.
"If something happens, city hall's gone, the fire department is not operable like it was after Katrina, then they come out here and just keep on rolling," said Dubuisson.
There are also rooms to shower, shave and wash clothes. First responders even have sleeping quarters.
Chief Dubuisson said the new 12,000 square foot building is a morale booster for his staff of 24 employees. After all, they lost their police station on Second Street in Katrina and had to ride out the storm in the city library.
"They know the hell that we went through in the library," said the chief. "And when it comes to that point when you can't do anymore during a hurricane, they come back to this place for safety, they will be safe here."
"Not only is it beautiful, it's build like a fortress," said Sanders. "So we don't have to worry about flooding out again."
In case of a severe storm, the $5 million building can run for at least three days with a back-up generator, a septic system and water well.