By Duane Preimsberger
Working at Firestone Station a few years after it opened and then seeing it close has been the experience of a lifetime. I was able to begin working there in the early 60’s when the early morning watch fielded 7 or 8 cars to handle an area that is now policed by dozens of units. It wasn’t unusual to hear calls dispatched like, “Firestone 15, come in for 5 calls and handle in order…” I was able to work the Northend, Willowbook as well as the Southend that bordered Long Beach, Wilmington, Harbor City, Torrance, Gardena and Compton. I saw first hand the violence and devastation of two major riots. I delivered 8 babies, walked a foot beat on Florence Ave. and rode 11 Mary, a kick-start, three-wheeled Harley. I helped police the first two organized Watts Summer Festival operations. Carrying a lunch box sized radio with a whip antenna, I walked alone through crowds of thousands in Will Rogers Park as 10 Paul Sam helping our Deputies make over 1000 arrests each of those years without any major incidents. I was a watch commander and D/B Lt. and I enjoyed almost every minute of my assignments.
The best part were the people who were assigned there, they seemed to care more about each other than at any other place I’ve worked. Camaraderie, caring, trust and brotherhood were more than just word. Later as a Region II Area Commander, Division Chief and Assistant Sheriff I made it a point to get into the field and roll on calls through out the Department’s jurisdiction. The one place I always felt most at home was in the area where I began my career.
As the Station was preparing to close it’s doors I stopped by on my way home one evening and walked through the place that had accumulated so many fond memories for me. In the basement, scrawled on the blackboard were the words, “Firestone will never die.” From a historical perspective, as the Department’s first patrol station, these words are 100% accurate. From a personal perspective, while those of us who were fortunate to work at that very special place remain on this earth that station, Firestone Park, will live on in our hearts. For each of us it is a place of magic. There; humor, pathos, terror and all the human emotions that can be felt were mirrored for us in it’s streets. For me and I hope for you it was a place of wonder, raw realism as well as love and anger and sadness and agony and euphoria. Those words that I read on that blackboard resonate for those of us fortunate enough to experience that place and for each of us, Firestone Station will never die, it will live forever in our hearts and souls.
May God bless those of you who walked through those back doors in order to police those streets.