HOUSTON – A flag-draped patrol unit sat in memoriam outside of the Houston Police Department’s southwest division Wednesday. This served as a tribute to Sgt. Harold Preston, who was killed in the line of duty on Tuesday.
Preston dedicated his career to making other officers better. One of those who came up under Preston’s watch was HPD executive assistant chief Troy Finner.
“I have 30 years in this department, and I knew Sgt. Preston every step of the way,” Finner said.
Preston was someone you wanted to know, Finner said. He taught rookie officers the importance of helping others.
Finner, who started his career with HPD in 1990, was a young, eager Houstonian from the Hiram Clarke area who sought guidance from a fellow native son, whose journey within the police department began 11 years prior.
“If you needed something, he had the answers,” Finner said, adding Preston was not one for pomp and circumstance.
Rather, Finner said Preston took policing seriously.
“The quiet, intelligent, professional that cared about everybody and touched everybody," he said. “That’s to be celebrated,”
It’s a celebration of a life that began in historic Third Ward, where lifelong friends remembered Preston as “Harold from around the corner.”
“He was always smiling, always a pleasant face. That didn’t change as time went on,” said council member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz.
The two attended famed Jack Yates High School together and never lost contact over the years.
Evans-Shabazz said Preston represented what is good about policing, as Houston considers reform in a report released earlier this month by Mayor Sylvester Turner’s task force on policing reform.
Why? Evans-Shabazz said that answer simple: Preston was human and treated everyone else the way he’d prefer to be treated.
“I just want people to realize even though [police officers] walk in a very risky walk on a daily basis, they are real people who have real families who cry real tears when things happen to them,” she said.
Finner echoed those sentiments.
“He’s the kind of guy who when I have questions I needed to ask. I sought his counsel,” he said.
Finner said that won’t change because Preston’s spirit hasn’t left despite the loss.
Many said Preston wore the badge because he cared. That’s the true story behind the young officer — with a smile turned — Houston hero.
“His legacy is not going to die with us,” Finner said.