GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – Many boxes are still stuffed with supplies, equipment and furniture, waiting to be sorted and unpacked. This is how Administrative Assistant Brittany Whitten described the long-awaited moving experience.
"It's like getting a new car, you know. It's all great," said Whitten. "Being able to experience this is a milestone for me. So it's exciting."
That excitement can be seen throughout the new Gulfport Police headquarters downtown Tuesday. The staff started operating out of the three-story complex last Friday. The only division missing right now is the dispatch team.
"This is the booking area and the detention area," said patrolman Gregory Anderson, who proudly showed off the rooms and equipment the department has never had before.
For instance, there's a section just for K-9s, a garage to hold vehicle evidence, and a secure area to transport prisoners. Cameras and microphones are also mounted throughout the building. Other additions include a gym, lockers, break room, cafeteria and meeting rooms.
"I never imagined this for Gulfport," said Anderson. "We're back downtown where we were originally when I started with the police department. We're back down closer to where our courts are. We have everything we need in one building."
If you look at the history of the Gulfport Police Department, you will appreciate why everyone is so thrilled to be back in downtown. The former police headquarters used to be in the old Entex building. Then after Katrina hit, everybody moved into trailers and then an old elementary school. The Robert J. Curry Public Safety Center is the first building specifically designed for a police department.
"It was a nice feeling that we finally had something that we could use and it was truly built for us," said Anderson.
"Everybody's happy. Everybody walks up and down the halls smiling. It's just a lot better," said Whitten.
In early January, the dispatchers will move in. The complex also houses municipal court and the staff will start the moving process sometime in February.