MILWAUKEE — In an effort to increase security at precincts across the city, the Milwaukee Police Department on Monday announced the installation of bulletproof glass in all district lobbies by mid-summer.
Four months after a gunman entered Milwaukee Police District 5 and opened fire, MPD along with the Milwaukee Police Association unveiled plans to install bulletproof glass in each of its precinct lobbies by early July. Assistant Chief Steven Johnson says the move wasn't made lightly.
"It's a barrier, but yet we can still interact with our citizens," said Johnson.
"This incident was very dramatic to our employees. We took that very seriously," Johnson said. "As an agency, we went out and solicited the input from not only the citizens for Milwaukee and elected officials, hearing their concerns and the concerns of our employees."
MPD says the new one-and-a-quarter inch thick floor-to-ceiling glass will be placed at the front desk of every precinct. Funded by charitable donations, it cost $261,800 to install in all the districts.
Milwaukee Police Foundation President Mark McClain says while the installation is a quick turnaround, the work isn't over.
"We're seeing a historic loss of life and injury to officers in the community, not only here in the walk up - throughout the nation," said McClain. "This is not a one-time deal. We're going to continue to work with the community to find safety measures from the community side, as well as from the law enforcement side."
In terms of adding additional security measures in the future, like metal detectors and more surveillance cameras, police leaders say they are looking at each of their precincts to see where they stand, and they will re-evaluate to see if adjustments need to be made.
DISTRICT 5 SHOOTING
Darreon Parker-Bell is facing one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon in addition to seven counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety following the Feb. 25 incident.
According to a criminal complaint, Parker-Bell entered District 5 with a gun to ask about his friend, Keishon Thomas, who died in custody there a week earlier.
He approached the front desk where an officer was sitting and asked about Thomas' death. The officer informed Bell he had no information, which Bell said made him angry.
Officials say that's when Parker-Bell removed his gun from his pocket and shot one round at the ground.
The officer and several other officers behind him got down on the ground. Thomas backed away from the desk and partition in front of him and the officer stood to look above the counter.
At the time, the complaint says Parker-Bell fired again, shattering the glass partition separating him from an officer. Bell fired a third shot toward the counter. Another officer then came out from a work area and fired three shots at Bell, according to the criminal complaint.
Bell left the station on foot. He was chased by several officers, who demanded that he drop his gun. He continued to point the gun at police, who then shot Bell and took him into custody.
In a police interview following his arrest, Parker-Bell said he went into the department hoping the officers would shoot and kill him. He said he had not been in a good place mentally, due to the death of his friend, Thomas.
In an interview with TMJ4, Parker-Bell's family suspected he went in with the intention of being killed. They said he had been struggling due to recent deaths in the family and Thomas' death.
"He didn’t really want to live anymore. We were telling him that we was going to get answers [about Thomas' death]," said Jr., Parker-Bell's uncle. "But when you messed up in the mind it’s hard."