I was born in Hawthorne
[Calif.], lived in Palos
It was not the container port
that it is today; it was bulk cargo.
The boats were smaller. I remember a lot of commercial fishing
going on, lots of sailboats. We’d
drop a line off the docks — it
would be Berth 93. We’d take them
[the fish] home in a burlap sack.
I had a great-uncle who was an
Oakland police officer. I had three
cousins who were/are police officers in San Francisco. My cousin is
a police officer in San Jose. My
brother-in-law is the retired chief
from Brawley, Calif. I didn’t serve
in the military, but my brother-in-law was in the Navy. He served on
That law enforcement thread
started for me in the Bay Area, with
my mom’s family. I had a natural
affinity, because of the family’s history in law enforcement. I started
out as a Police Explorer in Newport
Beach in my teens and became a
reserve officer at age 20 and worked
patrols while I was in college at
[University of Southern California].
My aspiration was to pursue
advertising and business, and I’d do
the reserve police thing because I
was enjoying it but I didn’t see it as
a profession. I applied to LAPD and
Newport Beach police and got the
job offer at Newport before L.A.
offered me the job. I committed that
I would do it as long as I enjoy it.
I did 32, 33 years at Newport
Beach, worked just about every
assignment in the organization.
The police and fire were responsi-
ble for the department and the
city’s emergency operations center.
We, at the Port of Los Angeles, host
a department operations center, a
DOC, that reports to the city’s
emergency management depart-
In my time at Newport, I was
responsible for liaison with John
Wayne Airport, with TSA [Trans-
portation Security Administration]
after 9/11. I developed the county
and city’s MANPAD, or man-portable
air defense systems.
Late in my career, there was a
chief’s opening in neighboring
Costa Mesa, and I was privileged to
get that job. A position at the Port
of Los Angeles became available, as
deputy chief for field operations
and emergency management, so I
applied for the job. I had the
chance to serve as the acting chief
for eight months and was appointed to the permanent job in
Police Chief Thomas E. Gazsi
LOS ANGELES PORT POLICE
SAN PEDRO, CALIF.
PROFILES IN SERVICE
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