Growing City's Police Department Isn't

It's hallways are cramped, it's offices are cramped, and the Ocean Springs Police Department has grown too small in a city that's getting bigger. Ocean Springs Police Chief Kerry Belk says, "We've basically come up with our offices being shared by as many as five and six people almost on a daily basis."

Lieutenant William Jackson says, "It's hard to find office space to sit down and do the proper paperwork to process the prisoner, to process the person that is making the complaint and sometimes we end up in the Kitchen taking reports from people."

Through the years, the location of the courtroom, jail cells, and booking rooms have all become strategically out-of-place. Chief Belk says, "We don't like having to have the citizenry and people here for court, traffic court have to walk past the hallways where we have sometimes people who are in jail for committing criminal offenses."

Even finding parking on court nights isn't easy, so what would they like to see done about it. Chief Belk says, "Build a structure that 10 years from its finish date, you could add on or add up to it in order to accommodate for the growth of the city."

Lieutenant Jackson says, "If they are able to get us another building, put it where where they can expand, somewhere centrally located in the city."

Although it is in the preliminary stages and years down the road, the city of Ocean Springs has already purchased a parcel of land just east of the Ocean Springs Civic Center in hopes of one day building a new public safety facility. The idea is to not only house the police department, but also the court system and move one of the branches of the fire department in as well.

With the parking problems they have at the current facility, moving the department adjacent to the Civic Center would allow them to utilize the myriad of spaces in the back of the building there and eliminate that problem.

Ocean Springs Mayor Seren Ainsworth says that the city will be looking into getting funding for the project, including, grants that would help build the much needed facility over the next few years.