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City awaits grant as police plan for move

An application for grant assistance has been submitted, andBrookhaven officials are continuing to plan for the PoliceDepartment’s relocation to the old Mississippi Highway Patrolsubstation on Highway 51.

Mayor Bob Massengill said the city’s application for a $150,000Small Municipalities grant from the Mississippi DevelopmentAuthority at the end of June. He said city officials are awaitingword on whether it will be approved.

“We won’t know anything for a while,” Massengill said,speculating word could come around mid-August.

Officials requested the maximum $150,000, which is available tocommunities with populations under 10,000 people. To improve thecity’s chances of being funded, aldermen voted to put $125,000toward the project for next year’s budget.

“This is that important to us,” Massengill said. “For us to getthat building renovated for a top-notch department, we need to putsome money into it.”

Massengill said the project would provide for a top-notchbuilding to equal top-notch department services. However, heacknowledged the project could have to be scaled back if thefunding assistance does not materialize.

“If we don’t get the grant funds, we’re going to have to cutback on what we want to do,” Massengill said.

Brookhaven Police Department Chief Pap Henderson said he remainsoptimistic the city will receive the grant.

“We’re hoping for the best and seeing what we can do,” Hendersonsaid.

The city received the building after agreeing to purchase landfor a new MHP station on Highway 84 several years ago. City ClerkMike Jinks said the property deed was formally conveyed toBrookhaven this past April.

Massengill said the MHP building has not been occupied since2002 when the new substation opened. City officials said the oldfacility needs work before it can be used again.

“We’re talking about making it a more functional building,”Massengill said.

Henderson discussed plans and benefits of his department’sproposed new home.

“We pretty well know how we want things out there,” Hendersonsaid.

Henderson said officials have identified plans for interiorrooms, office space, an evidence room and meeting areas. Alsomentioned were electrical and other changes needed to accommodatePolice Department operations.

“If it materializes, it’s going to be great,” Henderson said.”We’re going to be able to do things we need to do and utilizeit.”

Henderson also has plans for a trailer facility behind thesubstation. He said it will be used for storage, private interviewsand by visiting law enforcement agencies for their activities whenneeded.

“My intention is to make it something special and something thatBrookhaven can be proud of,” Henderson said of the new stationplans.

When the Brookhaven Police Department moves, it will leave spacein law enforcement complex. How the vacant space will be used hasnot be determined.

Lincoln County Administrator David Fields said there has beensome discussion about utilizing the space for civil defenseservices or by the Sheriff’s Department, which is located on theother end of the complex. He added supervisors have not made anydecisions regarding the space.

With his department’s imminent move at some point, Hendersonsaid the most important thing is law enforcement protection forcitizens will remain the same. The chief said he stresses that apolice officer’s job is not to “hang out” at the station but to beout patrolling the streets.

“We may be going to a new building, but we’ll still provide thesame protection we always have,” Henderson said.