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OPD on the move?

Like many city departments, the Oxford Police Department is getting too big for its britches.

OPD Chief Joey East said the current OPD building, on Molly Barr Road was built in 1985 when there were 25 officers and five civilian employees. Today, there are 68 officers, 20 reserve officers, one code enforcement officer and 12 civilian employees housed in the 8,895 square-foot building.

There are 45 lockers and 81 full-time staff and only nine women’s lockers.

“We have exceeded our capacity for both secure evidence storage and record storage,” East said Tuesday. “Our storage standards only meet minimum standard requirements because we are out of space and we are now having to photograph non drug-related evidence to make room.”

Every closet is full and the dispatch center is at its maximum capacity for electricity and Internet, which means the department cannot add any additional computers or other equipment. All five investigators work out of the same office.

The answer, according to East, is to build a new police station that would include moving the Municipal Court from City Hall to be neighbors with OPD.

East presented an example of a floor plan from the Pearl Police Complex that combines the police and the court into one building.

“We would have separate entrances but be under the same roof with this plan,”East explained to the Oxford Board of Aldermen during a work session.

The Pearl complex cost about $7 million, East said.

“Putting us together would make sense and make it easier for us and the court,” East said.

Land near Kroger

East said he thought a good place to build would be on the land behind Kroger grocery store, which now is home to the Riverside Apartments, a public housing complex owned by the city.

Last year, it was briefly discussed in a meeting between the aldermen and Oxford Housing Authority Director Jeff McClure that the buildings are in bad shape and lack many basic amenities. He told the aldermen that if the city should choose to close and demolish the apartment complex, residents would be given a year notice and be put onto a voucher system, where they would find a place to rent in Lafayette County and the OHA would pay the rent at fair market value.

However, the aldermen have made no decision whether to demolish Riverside yet. East said if that did come to pass, that location would be a great place for a new police complex.

“I know everyone in the city is cramped and I’m not here to fuss,” East told the aldermen. “I just wanted to show you what we’re up against at our current location and share these ideas of how to move forward.”

No action or vote was taken.