Early Sunday morning, just before 5:30 a.m., according to the Dallas Police Department, a black sports car sped past DPD's South Central Substation on Camp Wisdom Road, spraying bullets from a handgun. The two suspects, Assistant Chief Randy Blankenbaker said Sunday afternoon, initially targeted a uniformed officer sitting outside the substation in a police car. The shots landed just feet away from the car.
As the car traveled east on Camp Wisdom, the suspects continued firing, Blankenbaker said, eventually getting off nine shots, three of which hit the police building. No one was hurt. Police scoured the scene throughout the morning Sunday, shutting Camp Wisdom Road down in both directions to pick up shell casings.
Sunday's attack was the second on a DPD building in less than two years. On June 13, 2015, James Boulware opened fire on DPD's headquarters in the Cedars, eventually leading police on a chase to a Jack in the Box in Hutchins. A police sniper killed Boulware with a shot from a .50-caliber rifle.
In the aftermath of the 2015 attack, Dallas Police asked the city for increased security at the department's facilities. So far, that hasn't happened. The city spent $125,000 on a consultant to help learn how to secure the buildings in late 2015. Police have specifically asked for perimeter fencing at substations and increased security for parking lots.
On Sunday Blakenbaker explained the balancing act that DPD brass believes is required. "The biggest issue when it comes to station security or even headquarters security is the fact that we're a department that is dedicated to our community," Blankenbaker said. "So our stations can't become fortresses that are imposing and say to our citizens, 'Don't come here.'"
Frederick Frazier, the Dallas Police Association's first vice president, scoffed at Blankenbaker's assertion.
"That is the most idiotic thing," Frazier said. "Are you kidding me? What the hell do you want us to look like? 'Hey come over here, rob us, take us over.' You're supposed to have something to protect you."
Frazier says that continued inaction by Dallas' politicians and city officials threatens the health of the department long term and the safety officers right now.
"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,'" Frazier said. "The mayor, the City Council have failed us. They have sat there and sat there and sat there."
He accused city officials of prioritizing other projects ahead of safeguarding police. "They will build a bridge. They will build a park. The will build anything they want to build with their friends' money in their back pockets that builds all that crap, but they won't build anything for these substations," Frazier said. "They're building shit to make money and put it in their own goddamned pockets, but they won't build a fucking thing for police officers."
While cities around Dallas have spent money to upgrade police facilities, such as academies and firing ranges, he says Dallas police are stuck with antiquated facilities. "Our range is from the '50s. You go to Fort Worth, they have a $100 million facility, completely secure. You go to Dallas, any slap-dick in America can drive in there in his ghetto-blaster and pop off cops. There's no security anywhere," Frazier said.
Without improvements and political action, Frazier said, attrition will continue at DPD, irreparably damaging the city and the department.
"Think about it. We've lost 181 officers since Jan. 1, 354 officers last year, in 2016. What have they done? What have these politicians done? The last chief said he wanted to hire 500 officers. We've hired 41," Frizier said. "These bastards have never done a thing but claim that they're behind us, it's time for them to shut up or put up."
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.