SOUTHAVEN, MS (WMC) - Southaven is adding another police precinct to serve the western side of town.
Southaven Police Department currently works out of two buildings: the main headquarters on Northwest Drive and a traffic division on May Boulevard.
The new building will be located at 7320 Highway 51 North, in the spot of the former WIN Job Center (which is relocating to Getwell Road).
Mayor Darren Musselwhite said an increase in criminal activity along Highway 51 and nearby neighborhoods helped spark the decision.
"This is a common trend as cities age but will be unaccepted in Southaven. The most effective crime deterrent is Police presence. Our Police will be seen more in this area and will stop this trend," Musselwhite wrote in a recent blog.
Police will start using the building within 90 days of construction being completed.
"We watch out for each other all the time," resident Charles Timbes said.
Timbes said the neighborhood watch in his cove in the Colonial Hills area of Southaven is very active.
"I've been here 51 years. I bought this house new, and I'd like to finish my time out here," Timbes said.
Timbes said he's glad Southaven police are about to move into the now-vacant city building off Highway 51.
In roughly 90 days, it will become the department's west precinct and serve as home base for half of the department's officers.
"Hopefully our presence over there is going to help deter a lot of the activity," Southaven Police Chief Steve Pirtle said.
Chief Pirtle said crime has ticked up in the west part of the city over the past year, with two drive-by shootings in residential areas and two shootings at an apartment complex that will now be a stone's throw from the new police precinct.
The west precinct expansion is one way of getting officers more out into the community, according to Pirtle.
Soon the east precinct will expand, and officers will report to those two locations instead of at the main police station.
Southaven is the third largest city in Mississippi and has seen tremendous growth over the past decade.
"With growth comes more opportunity for crime," Chief Pirtle said. "You're drawing more attention to yourself and there's more capabilities down here than ever with the businesses and large number of residents that we have."
Pirtle wouldn't say how many officers are currently on the force, but he indicated he has plans to add officers by next year to enhance the city's street crimes division.