MCLENNAN COUNTY, Texas - Police departments are taking extreme measures to protect their officers in this new age of ambush attacks.
Last year 17 officers lost their lives in such attacks. A Wimberley officer was recently shot, but survived. In this week's Crime Watch FOX 7's Noelle Newton travels to Hewitt, Texas where kevlar lines the police department.
Just south of Waco lies the town of Hewitt population 14,000. Leading the police department is a man whose career took him to dangerous places.
"People going into police departments... I've seen where they shot them up or they've attacked people and even my personal experience where we had a subject come in and damaging break windows and try to assault employees,” said Chief Jim Devlin. "I've always carried that with me. If I had the opportunity to build a facility, we were going to make sure that our employees were safe and it would be very difficult for anybody to just come in and attack us just out of the blue."
In 2014, Chief Jim Devlin got that chance helping to construct a facility built to be a buffer against bad intentions.
"If there's an attack in the building, there's enough time that the employees can just get out and be safe,” said Devlin.
The walls are made of kevlar material. The same thing lining Devlin's ballistic vest.
"Inside it looks pretty standard like a sheet rock wall, but behind it is compressed kevlar. It's a building material that our contractor found and what we did is we shaped it and put it into the walls,” said Devlin.
On the outside of the kevlar is a thick concrete shield. Should a vehicle make it past the large boulders in the flower bed or the metal bollards around the entrance the walls will stop it before harming those inside.
A lot of thought went into the windows as well. The glass is bullet resistant.
The reception area is the only place you'll find a clear view of an employee. All other windows are placed high above officers' desks.
"We like that idea because that way if there were somebody out there they just can't see you through the glass and take out the glass and attack that way,” said Devlin.
The safety enhancements go on and on from expanded steel around the walls of the evidence room to controlled access to every entry point within the building.
"I think 20 years ago this was a wish that agencies have that they could do something like this just for that protection now it's become a reality,” said Devlin.
The reality of ambush attacks. Last year it was Dallas, near Devlin's last police department. Prior to that Austin. On this past Black Friday Hays County deputies were attacked.
"They're getting closer and closer,” said Devlin.
Should trouble strike in his small town, Devlin has insured his officers will at least have a fighting chance.
"There's no true 100% measure that's going to keep somebody from getting into the facility. The reality is if they really want to get in though get it. We just try to slow them down as much as we can,” said Devlin.