The News-Leader’s Answer Man: What Goes on in That Building?


Question:  Sir, this may be in the category of “if you tell me you might have to kill me.” I drive by a building that has a security fence and security gate and the few windows always have the blinds closed. There is a visitor entrance but it has a keypad. The building has no signage; it has at least a couple of cars in the parking lot 24/7. What’s it for? – Mike Sweaney, Springfield

Ansswer:  Obviously, in his question Mike provided me with the location. I will not include it in my answer. It’s in Springfield, off the beaten path.

I went to the one entry door. It is not behind the security fence.

There was, as Mike said, a keypad. As well as a sign that said “U.S. General Services Administration.” The GSA leases and manages property for the federal government.

Other than that, I saw no signage on the building.

From the other side of the door I heard the sound of a vacuum cleaner.

The cleaning lady opened the door and was startled to see me standing there.
I walked in having no idea what federal agency was within. The receptionist was not there but I saw a Springfield DEA cap. Behind me on the wall of the foyer were a photo and two signs indicating this was the DEA office.

The receptionist returned. She told me what I already knew – this was the DEA office.
I asked if she could provide me anything more, such as how many employees work here.

She said no.

I said thank you and left. On the drive back to the office, I repeatedly glanced at my rear view mirror, feeling under suspicion for no good reason.

Later, I felt a sense of relief when a DEA spokeswoman in St. Louis returned my call; she had no problem with me identifying the building as the Springfield DEA office.

(These are the views of Steve Pokin, the News-Leader’s columnist. Pokin has been at the paper 31/2 years and over the course of his career has covered just about everything – from courts and cops to features and fitness. He can be reached at 836-1253,, on Twitter @stevepokinNL or by mail at 651 N. Boonville, Springfield, MO 65806.
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