PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - It is storm sturdy and sits on the highest piece of ground in the city. Pass Christian residents gathered Thursday morning to dedicate the new police department and emergency operations center.
The new facility on Espy Avenue is 34 feet above sea level and is outside the 500 year flood plain.
You'll recall the Pass Christian police officers whose lives were endangered when Katrina's rising waters trapped them inside the old library. That group, which included the police chief, managed an escape to the roof. The new building promises to be much safer.
The new $4 million public safety complex is a welcome improvement for Pass Christian and its police chief.
"We are proud of it. It's a fine facility. It is state of the art. It's something I thought I'd never see in my lifetime. And probably the people who work for the city thought they'd never see," said Police Chief John Dubuisson, "It took a Katrina to give it to us, but we're here now."
"Man, you've got it made here now son," exclaimed one elderly man who toured the new building.
Pass residents are impressed with the new facility. Alderman Anthony Hall checked out the AFIS fingerprint system.
"Oh, you're rolling it," he said, as an officer guided his hand for a palm print.
The 12,000 square foot building is designed to withstand strong hurricane winds.
"I know we're secure. Because you see, I went through Katrina with them. So, I know what a stable building means," said dispatcher Gloria Sanders, "I love it. It's a step up from anything we've had before. It's a long way from where we've come."
The always jovial mayor offered a quip about elevation.
"It's about 34 feet above sea level. And we never say never, but if you get water here, God bless the city of Memphis, Tennessee is all I can tell ya," said a smiling Mayor Chipper McDermott.
Although its storm sturdiness is the main benefit of this new building, the police officers who work here are also impressed with its spaciousness. They've spent the past five years working out of cramped trailers.
Veteran officer Barry Smith likes everything about the new station.
"The building itself. The kitchen. Holding cells. Booking area. Everything. It was a big improvement from the trailer we was in," he said.
"When I first came here, they was stuck in the trailers," said officer Clifton Malley, "And this department right here, the building itself is awesome."
Mayor McDermott thanked the hard-working taxpayers of the United States for paying for most of the public safety complex. The city paid $779,000. The rest of the $4.1 million project was paid for by FEMA.