Old School Could Become Gulfport's Temporary Police Station

City leaders say it's time to move Gulfport's police department and its municipal court employees out of cramped trailers and into bigger offices. On Tuesday, the Gulfport City Council had an item on its agenda to lease the vacant 28th Street Elementary School building. The city's plan is to turn a hurricane damaged school into a temporary home for police and courtroom personnel.

Since the storm, those employees have been in a complex of FEMA trailers.  On the wall of one of the trailers is a small white map. It explains where you need to go to find the temporary courtrooms. Behind door C-10 is Odell Thompson.

"It's a little confining," the city's new court administrator said. "But you learn how to adjust."

Gulfport did what it could after Katrina to salvage city court and the adjacent police department. But agencies lost significant chunks of their buildings during that horrific storm. They've been in FEMA trailers for nearly two years.

"I have to commend the staff. The staff has done excellent under the conditions," Thompson said.

A permanent home for Gulfport squad cars and municipal clerks is being designed. And according to Gulfport Police Chief Alan Weatherford, "Personnel here at the police department, everybody is extremely excited."

Until that building is erected, Gulfport wants to use part of 28th Street Elementary School as a temporary home for its two law enforcement agencies. Chief Weatherford says a dollar a year lease has been negotiated with the Gulfport School system to rent the property for the next two-and-a-half years.

"The 28th Street Elementary move, we hope to be in that school by September 22," said the chief.

Odell Thompson would like his courtroom personnel to move over there a week or so later.

The Gulfport City Council agenda also included a letter of engagement request for a $10 million bond to pay for the new municipal complex being built downtown. That building will be on the same property where the police department and the municipal courthouse had offices prior to Katrina.