On Feb. 4, for at least the fourth time in the last three years, someone attacked a Dallas Police Department substation. This time, Gregory Simpson, 58, allegedly busted up 12 squad cars at DPD's Deep Ellum outpost with a sledgehammer a little after 5 a.m.
Simpson's alleged act of vandalism came after James Boulware shot up DPD headquarters in the Cedars in 2015, a February 2017 drive-by shooting at DPD's South Central Substation and an April incident in which an armed man in a Guy Fawkes mask was arrested for threatening officers at the Dallas Police Southwest Patrol Division.
Around 5am this morning a suspect entered our central substation parking lot that’s STILL unsecured smashing 12 cars in total! What’s it going to take folks, Officer getting killed ? These parking lots need to be secure !!!!! pic.twitter.com/vWUGLFUlzV— Dallas Police Assoc (@DPA_PoliceAssoc) February 4, 2018
Each of the attacks has raised the ire of Dallas cops and their associations, which have called for increased station security for years. According to information set to be presented to a Dallas City Council committee Monday, the city is well on its way to completing security upgrades the council promised to DPD last year. More help is on the way, too, thanks to money allocated by last fall's city of Dallas bond election.
Since Boulware's attack, Dallas has spent or allocated about $3.4 million to station improvements. Most of that cash, about $2 million, has gone to improvements in the lobby of Jack Evans Police Headquarters. In an ongoing project expected to be completed in May, the headquarters is being outfitted with bulletproof glass and anti-ballistic wall panels, a new control room, more cameras and a card-based entry system, in addition to a remade visitor screening area with a new revolving door.
The rest of the first round of cash went to similar interior improvements at seven DPD patrol stations, all of which are expected to be completed by next month.
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After the interior projects are complete, the city will use $6.7 million from the 2017 bond package to begin tackling exterior security at DPD locations, including parking lot security and fencing, something that's been one of the biggest priorities for officers and the unions that say the city is forcing officers to sit in front of stations in patrol cars to protect the officers inside and the stations.
"There is no security at these places. You have these officers sitting in marked cars that are just absolute targets. You might as well just put a big-ass bulls-eye on that squad car or that substation and say, 'Come by and light us up,'" Frederick Frazier, first vice president of the Dallas Police Association, told the Observer after the attack at the South Central Substation. "The mayor, the City Council have failed us. They have sat there and sat there and sat there."
Ron Pinkston, former president of the Dallas Police Association, told the Observer in May that parking lot security has become more important as DPD struggles with attrition.
"We have more officers out on the street covering shifts, so we need more security at the stations. Fire departments have fences around their stations," Pinkston said. "That's all officers are asking for — security when they walk out at the end of the night."