Hancock County

11 years after Katrina, Waveland police station can withstand storms

Eleven years after Hurricane Katrina, the Waveland Police Department finally has a base of operations strong enough to stand just about any storm.

Monday, state and local officials called the new police station well-deserved and overdue.

Sen. Roger Wicker joined local elected officials, including Waveland Mayor David Smith, Waveland Police Chief David Allen and former Mayor Tommy Longo in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Longo was mayor of Waveland when Katrina hit the Coast.

The Bay-Waveland area was Ground Zero for the hurricane. The force from the storm wiped out a good portion of both cities.

Bay St. Louis and Waveland face challenges to regain the populations they had before the storm.

Due to funding issues, it has taken until now to open the new police station.

“There were some complications with funding,” Wicker said. “That’s why it took so long to get this built. But I’m happy to say it’s finally completed.”

The 30-plus Waveland police staff had been operating out of a double-wide trailer. Allen said that for the last eight or nine months, they’ve been using two air conditioning wall units to cool the building.

Investigator David Buckley said the walls were so thin, you could hear conversations from down the hall.

“Our goal was to get them out of the trailer. I don’t know if you guys saw it before,” Smith said to the audience, “but where they were operating out of before, it was horrific.”

The new station is state-of-the-art and houses a courtroom, animal control and the city’s beautification committee. Most notably, the station can serve as an Emergency Operations Center.

There are now two interrogations rooms, a digital forensics lab, data backup and storage capabilities. Allen said the station will back up all city hall records. He has access to surveillance video of the entire station at his office desk.

The new station has 35 cameras, some of which are motion-sensitive, card reader entry points and bullet-resistant glass windows. The station also has a conference room with multiple projectors, called the “PD war room.”

Doors in the station’s sally port — a secure entryway — can withstand 200 mile per hour winds. There’s also a vehicle maintenance area.

The new station, built as a public safety shelter, has a 10,000-gallon underground water tank, 10,000-gallon sewage tank and a generator that can last for four days. Two ice machines can make 500 pounds of ice a day.

The station has a sleeping area, six showers and a kitchen. It has enough room to house city employees and their families, Allen said. The police chief has a foldout couch and bathroom in his office.

“We don’t want people to ask, the Waveland PD or the Waveland FD, where’s our family?” Allen said. “You need to have that peace of mind to focus on your job here.”

The new station is a symbol of growth and renewal for Waveland, Sen. Phillip Moran said. Moran said other plans are in store for the area.

“With a lot of the industry we have and will continue to bring in, the biggest need is for a trained workforce,” he said. “That’s one of the reason we want to bring in a college.”