DOWNEY - On the evening of April 10, 1981, Downey Police Officer Wayne Presley and his partner, Officer Steve Guthrie, were assisting a stalled motorist on Florence Avenue, just west of Lakewood Boulevard.It was a dark night, but not too late and visibility was good. A semi tractor had stalled in the street so the two officers protected the traffic, redirecting them around the incident. Once the situation was resolved, Presley and Guthrie, who parked right behind the tractor, mounted their motorcycles preparing to leave the scene when a drunk driver, traveling above the speed limit, struck the officers, slamming Presley and his bike into the back of the tractor. Severely injured, Guthrie miraculously survived, but Presley, just 37-years-old, was killed instantly. Thirty years later, the Downey Police Department will remember Presley's service to the community during a special dedication service next Thursday as city officials unveil a new memorial statue, which pays tribute to Downey's first and only fallen officer. The memorial, which has been under construction for several months, will be unveiled directly in front of the Downey Police Department. Funded through the city's Arts in Public Places fund, the project is slated to cost $90,000. Presley, a native of Anutt, Missouri, worked for the Downey Police Department more than seven years, after about four years with the Los Angeles Police Department. He also served in the Navy for 10 years before becoming a police officer. Since Downey Police officers first went out on the streets in July 1957, Officer Wayne Presley remains the only officer in department history to have been killed on duty. The memorial service and dedication for Presley will be held at 10 a.m. on Sept. 22 in front of the Downey Police Department, located at 10911 S. Brookshire Ave.
********** Published: September 15, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 22