Ocean Springs Police Take Message To The People - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/28/05

Ocean Springs Police Take Message To The People

Ocean Springs police officers are trying to speak to as many community and civic groups as possible to build support for a new $5 million public safety complex.

The vote on the bond issue to pay for it is in June, so the police are taking their case to the people.

Inside his cramped office, Lionel Cothern said it wasn't unusual to "have to climb over stuff to get to the file cabinets."

Payroll, inventory and purchasing records all cross Cothern's desk. Over the years, he says the files at the Ocean Springs Police Department have grown, but his office space has not.

"That's pretty much the condition of the whole department now," he said. "We're just walking over each other. We've well outgrown this department years ago."

Ocean Springs police want to leave their present building for a more centralized location on Highway 90. That way officers responding to a call from the station wouldn't have to travel as far.

They say a new public safety complex has other benefits that voters may not realize, so they're taking their message straight to the people.

"They need to be informed because this going to go to a vote," said Chief Kerry Belk. "I feel confident that when the citizens of Ocean Springs have an opportunity to hear the reasons why we need a new facility and the benefits to them, to their children and to the community as a whole, they'll be more apt to vote yes."

Chief Belk says he isn't asking voters to make any sacrifices he wouldn't be willing to make himself.

"I have paid taxes in Ocean Springs for 23 years. I, for one personally, would pay whatever taxes were necessary and reasonable to see that what the city is asking for in the bond issue would come to light."

Come June, officers will find out if they've done enough to convince voters to come on board.

Chief Belk says if a new public safety complex is built, the present building would be used as a substation.

by Danielle Thomas

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