Ocean Springs Public Safety Complex plans move forward

By Don Culpepper - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Police Chief Lionel Cothern has seen enough of the clutter that lines the hallways of the Ocean Springs Police Department.

"As you can see, we have stuff stacked everywhere," Cothern said as he walked the crowded halls.

The police department took over the downtown facility from the fire department about 24 years. Like the city, the department has grown dramatically since then.

"We have three captains sharing an office," says Cothern. "We have our Detective Captain here. We have our records division and our clerk office here."

So Cothern couldn't have been more pleased with the Board of Aldermen's vote this week to finalize floor and site plans. The city will also begin soliciting bids for a new police station and jail near the Civic Center on Highway 90.

"Just having a newer building, bigger than this, is going to be so much nicer," Cothern said. "We have stuff stacked in our hallways. We're just out of room."

The new station and jail will be part of a nearly $8 million Public Safety Complex. But Mayor Connie Moran said the two percent restaurant and lounge tax passed to fund it and other projects is far from the only source of funding.

"The CDBG funding, in this case, is strictly for the fire station and emergency operations center and purchase of the property," Moran said. "The two percent funding would go specifically for a new police station and jail facility."

Moran said a new courtroom will be added later. She's confident that when it's completed, residents will have a facility they can be proud they had a part in creating.

"I'm very proud to live in a community and to serve as Mayor of citizens who want these amenities, understand its importance for our quality of life, for our children and really citizens of all ages."