New DPS headquarters to be located in Rankin County

Commissioner Sean Tindell was appointed by Governor Tate Reeves to lead the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (DPS) in May of 2020. Of the many challenges he faced as he took office was the proposed plan for a new Department of Public Safety headquarters. In the past, some efforts had been made and some money has been allocated to start on the architectural renderings and come up with plans. In 2020, however, the plans had not been finalized.

“When I walked into the office, it really wasn’t even on my radar,” Commissioner Tindell explains. “I met with Senator Dean Kirby one afternoon at the Capitol, and he had advised me that they had put together some funding for a new headquarters building. He wanted to know the status of the construction and when we could expect to be moving forward with it; and so I was surprised by that.”

The project had been something that had been on the table prior to Tindell taking office and had been in the works for about fifteen years. A peer report indicated that Rankin County would be a good location for preliminary funding. There had even been a groundbreaking at one point; it just never really got to the stage where it took off. What they needed was funding, enough funding to actually put it out for bid. Therefore, Tindell’s efforts have centered around receiving the much-needed funding. With the help and commitment of Tindell’s support staff, they were able to get the project out for bid and get the bids finalized so that the construction could start.

“We really got to work on that, and the final step in actually getting the construction started was the funding we received this year. It has been a two-year process … trying to get the finalized plans as well as the funding for the project. I am very excited about it.”

When asked if the process of receiving the necessary funding was challenging, Tindell, in jest, responded, “It kept me up at night for about two years. It was a major point of interest for me and in my discussions with legislative leadership as well as executive leadership within the state government about the need for it…and then I went to the Capitol, and I worked with the legislative leadership and the legislative leaders on trying to get the funding passed through the bills this session.”

Tindell says that although he was in the leadership position during this time, he could not have accomplished what he did without his team, “particularly Mandy Davis, who oversees our building and operations.”

“As one of our deputy commissioners, she really worked tirelessly to pull it all together with the architect with DFA,” said Tindell. “Mandy did a great job working with the architect, coordinating with them, coordinating with DFA, and my job was to go and be the squeaky wheel for the money. I think, all in all, we pulled together a great plan with various meetings with our agency heads trying to make sure that we maximize the space at the new headquarters and that we create a great functional law enforcement building that could be a great law enforcement center for the entire state.”

As far as the building itself, the architecture firm responsible for the design is the Jackson-based firm Eley Guild Hardy Architects. The primary architect is Chuck Barlow.

The proposed DPS headquarters site is located next to the State Fire Academy campus in Rankin County, on the south side of I-20. So far, progress on-site has meant doing the ground work and clearing some of the land and trees. The timeline given is around three years to completion.

The new headquarters will enable, among other things, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and Homeland Security to operate on the same floor. This consolidation means, essentially, that instead of having intel analysts work for each division separately, there will be a designated area where all intel analysts work together - with a greater emphasis toward sharing and gathering intelligence. The future plan, facilitated by the consolidation of these DPS departments, is to grow the Mississippi office of Homeland Security and their cybersecurity efforts and cybersecurity teams.

Tindell says the final product, overall, will vastly improve efficiency and communication between DPS departments.

“I can’t overemphasize how important [the new headquarters] is for the future of this agency as well as public safety in the State of Mississippi,” said Tindell. “We have multiple law enforcement agencies that operate underneath the Department of Public Safety and, as it stands now, just about all of them work out of separate offices. By having the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Commercial Transportation Enforcement Division and Capitol Police all having offices together in the same building, it is going to improve the communication, not only within our agency, but it will also allow a state law enforcement and local law enforcement from across the state to better communicate with us from a central location.”

Tindell says that as of now, and for the near future, “my main focus is to make sure we keep pushing the project forward and get it completed so that, in my mind, we will have a safer Mississippi.”

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