BRANSON, Mo. – A Public Safety Complex is coming to Branson, as the city has purchased the old White House Theater to host the police department and other public safety entities.
Along with Branson PD’s headquarters, the Public Safety Complex will house the Branson Fire Department’s administration, an emergency operations center and an integrated dispatch center at 2255 Gretna Road.
The police department originally purchased land to build a new police station at a different location, but the city’s board of aldermen voted to sell that land and purchase the theater to save money. The $2.5 million purchase is expected to save the city and police department millions compared to the original plan.
The new police department headquarters will be funded through the half-cent Public Safety Sales Tax that Branson residents passed in 2017. The BPD headquarters will take up about 35,000 square feet of the theater’s space, while the rest will be split between other departments.
Chief of Police Eric Schmitt told The Heartlander that Branson residents and officers have been promised a new police headquarters for the last 20 years, and he is ecstatic things are finally coming together.
“We are pigeon-holed in 9,000 square feet down here for an authorized police force of 56 officers and civilian staff that help support it,” Schmitt said about the current police headquarters on the bottom floor of City Hall.
“We have so little room here that we are bursting at the seams. We don’t have adequate facilities, we don’t even have a true female locker room. Most of our evidence has to be stored off-site at an undisclosed location, which requires a bunch of logistics just to keep track of the evidence. We don’t have workout facilities, training facilities or anything along those lines.”
The new complex will give BPD space to build a state-of-the-art evidence facility to allow evidence to be processed on-site. The new headquarters will also offer better storage, arrestee holding areas, exercise facilities, locker rooms, a training classroom and much more.
The renovation of the White House Theatre is expected to last approximately 18 months, and the first phase of development is budgeted at $9.5 million.
The city is currently taking bids for interior design architects to put together a floor plan and execute it, and Chief Schmitt says a priority for him is creating a space where residents can gather and engage with their first responders.
“We don’t truly have a good community room right now,” he said. “Rotary, Veterans Association – you name it – can come and have a meeting and maybe interact with the police department, fire department or other staff. It will give us good options if we want to have community meetings, HOA meetings, things along those lines. We will have the ability to address them and kind of partner with them on whatever issues are going on at the time.”