Daryl Gates: Wikis


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Daryl Gates
Los Angeles Police Department
Born August 30, 1926 (1926-08-30) (age 83)
Place of birth Highland Park, Los Angeles, California, USA
Service branch United States
Year of service 1949 - 1992
Rank Sworn in as an Officer - 1949
US-O7 insignia.svg - Commander - 1965
US-O10 insignia.svg - Chief of Police - 1978
Awards Pmuc.JPG - Police Meritorious Unit Citation
PMSM.JPG - Police Meritorious Service Medal
1984medal.JPG - 1984 Summer Olympics Ribbon
1987pv.JPG - 1987 Papal Visit Ribbon
92riots.JPG - 1992 Civil Disturbance Ribbon
Other work Businessman, Executive, Talk-show host, Radio commentator

Daryl Gates (born Darrel[1] Francis Gates, August 30, 1926) was the Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) from 1978 until 1992.


Early life

Gates was born to a Mormon mother and a Catholic father in Highland Park, Los Angeles, California; he was raised in his mother's faith. His family relocated to Glendale, where Gates spent most of his youth. The Great Depression had an impact on his early life: his father was an alcoholic, and frequently ended up in the custody of the Glendale police. (Later in life, Gates often remarked on the taunts and harassment he received from schoolmates because of his father's behavior.) His mother had to support the family alone, often on little more than church and government welfare payments.

Gates graduated from high school and joined the Navy in time to see action in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Shortly after leaving the Navy, he attended college on the GI Bill and married. At the time, a friend suggested that he join the LAPD, which was conducting a recruitment drive among former servicemen, which Gates initially declined.

LAPD career

However, he did join the LAPD in 1949. Among his roles as an officer, Gates was picked to be the chauffeur for Chief William H. Parker. Gates often remarked that he gained many administrative and professional insights from Parker during the hours they spent together each day.

Gates worked hard to prepare for his promotional exams, scoring first in the sergeant's exam and in every promotional exam thereafter. On his promotion to lieutenant, he rejoined Chief Parker as Parker's executive officer. He was promoted to captain and became responsible for intelligence, and by the time of the Watts riots in 1965 he was an inspector (overseeing the investigation of, among other crimes, the Manson Family murders and the Hillside Strangler case). On March 28, 1978, Gates became the 49th Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.


Gates is considered the father of SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics), who established the specialized unit in order to deal with hostage rescue and extreme situations involving armed and dangerous suspects. Ordinary street officers, with light armament, limited weapons training and little instruction on group fighting techniques, had shown to be ineffective in dealing with snipers, bank robberies carried out by heavily armed persons and other high-intensity situations. In 1965, Officer John Nelson came up with the idea to form a specially trained and equipped unit to respond to and manage critical situations while minimizing police casualties.

As an inspector, Gates approved this idea. He formed a small select group of volunteer officers. The first SWAT team, which Gates had originally wanted to name "Special Weapons Attack Team," was born LAPD SWAT, D-Platoon of the Metro Division. This first SWAT unit was initially constituted as 15 teams of four men each, for a total staff of 60. These officers were given special status and benefits, but in return they had to attend monthly trainings and serve as securities for police facilities during episodes of civil unrest. SWAT was copied almost immediately by most US police departments, and is now used by law enforcement agencies throughout the world.

In Gates' autobiography, Chief:My Life in the LAPD (Bantam Books, 1992), he explained that he neither developed SWAT tactics nor its distinctive equipment. He wrote that he supported the concept, tried to empower his people to develop the concept, and lent them moral support.[citation needed]


In joint collaboration with the Rotary Club of Los Angeles, Gates founded DARE, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program designed to educate children about the dangers of drug abuse. DARE is currently used in schools worldwide, although scientific research has found it to be ineffective in reducing alcohol or drug use and there is evidence that it may increase drug use among some groups.[2]


Gates's appointment as chief roughly coincided with the intensification of the War on Drugs. A drug-related issue that had also come to the forefront at the time was gang violence, which paralyzed many of the neighborhoods (primarily impoverished and black or Hispanic) in which gangs held sway. In response, LAPD set up specialist gang units which gathered intelligence on and ran operations against gangs. These units were called Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums, aka CRASH, immortalized in the 1988 film Colors. Gates' aggressive approach to the gang problem was effective in suppressing gang violence,[citation needed] but its indiscriminate nature led to numerous allegations of false arrest and allegations of a general LAPD disdain for young black and Latino men. Ironically, by this time the department had a significant percentage of minority officers.[citation needed]

Gates himself became a byword among some for excessive use of force by anti-gang units, and became a favorite lyrical target for gang-connected urban black rappers notably, Ice Cube. Nevertheless, CRASH's approach appeared successful and remained in widespread use until the Rampart Division scandal of 1999 drew attention to abuses of the law that threatened to undo hundreds of criminal convictions.

Force enlargement

Gates became LAPD chief of police a little over two months before the enactment of California's Proposition 13, during a time of tremendous change in California politics. While LAPD traditionally had been a "lean and mean"[citation needed] department compared with other American police forces (a point of pride for Parker),[citation needed] traffic congestion and continually decreasing officer-to-resident ratios[citation needed] (approximately 7,000 police officers for 3,000,000 residents in 1978)[citation needed] diminished the effectiveness of LAPD's prized mobility. Gates was eager to take more recruits, particularly for CRASH units, when the city made funds available.[citation needed] He later claimed that many officers recruited in the 1980s - a period in which LAPD was subject to a consent decree which set minimum quotas for hiring of women and minorities - were substandard,[citation needed] remarking:

" ... [I]f you don't have all of those quotas, you can't hire all the people you need. So you've got to make all of those quotas. And when that happens, you get somebody who is on the borderline, you'd say "Yes, he's black, or he's Hispanic, or it's a female, but we want to bring in these additional people when we have the opportunity. So we'll err on the side of, 'We'll take them and hope it works out.'" And we made some mistakes. No question about it, we have made some mistakes."

Administrative style and personality

Like his mentor Parker, Gates publicly questioned the effectiveness of community policing, usually electing not to work with community activists and prominent persons in communities in which LAPD was conducting major anti-gang operations.[citation needed] At the time of the Rodney King beating, Gates was at a community policing conference. This tendency, a logical extension of the policies implemented by Parker that discouraged LAPD officers from becoming too enmeshed in the communities in which they served, did not serve him well politically: allegations of arrogance and racism plagued the department throughout his tenure, surfacing most strongly in the Christopher Commission report.

Operation Hammer

Many commentators criticized Gates for Operation Hammer, a policing operation conducted by the LAPD in South Los Angeles. After eight people were gunned down at a birthday party in a drive by shooting in 1987, Gates responded with an extremely aggressive sweep of South Los Angeles that involved 1000 officers at any given time. The operation lasted several years, with multiple sweeps, and resulted in over 25,000 arrests. (This was not unprecedented: during the run-up to the 1984 Summer Olympics, Mayor Tom Bradley allegedly ordered Gates to take all of the city's gang members—known and suspected—into custody, where they remained until shortly after the Games' conclusion.) As a vast majority of those arrested were never charged, Operation Hammer was roundly criticized by the left as a harassment operation whose chief goal was to intimidate young black and Hispanic men. In a PBS interview, when asked whether the local people in the minority areas expressed thanks to the police for their actions, he responded:

"Sure. The good people did all the time. But the community activists? No. Absolutely not. We were out there oppressing whatever the community had to be, whether it was blacks, or Hispanics. We were oppressing them. Nonsense. We're out there trying to save their communities, trying to upgrade the quality of life of people..."

A contemporary quote reflected his attitude toward the liberal consensus on civil liberties:

"You know, we talk about civil rights violations. No one seems to talk about the civil rights violations of the good people out there . . . that are caused by gangs. Those gangs are so oppressive to those individuals who live within that community. All we talk about is have we violated the civil rights of these idiot gang members..."

Los Angeles riots

The 1992 Los Angeles riots brought an end to Gates's police career. Following the acquittal of the officers shown beating Rodney King on videotape, rioting broke out in Los Angeles. Within minutes of the announcement of the verdict, white truck driver Reginald Denny was dragged from his vehicle while stopped at the intersection of Florence and Normandie Avenues in South Central Los Angeles and severely beaten by several black teenagers as news helicopters hovered above.

Blacks, Hispanics, and Koreans clashed for three days throughout South Central and Mid-Wilshire and news cameras beamed images of destruction throughout the world. Both the LAPD and the National Guard failed to contain the riots, and order was not restored until active-duty Army troops (including the 7th Infantry Division) were deployed.

On the first evening of the riots, Gates told reporters that the situation would soon be under control, and attended a previously scheduled fundraising dinner. These actions led to charges that Gates was out of touch. General command-and-control failings in the entire LAPD hierarchy during the riots led to criticisms that he was incapable of managing his force. In the aftermath of the riots, local and national media printed and aired dozens of reports deeply critical of the LAPD under Gates, painting it as an army of racist beat cops accountable only to an arrogant leadership. While evidence of systematic racism among the rank-and-file and by Gates himself was not clear-cut, it was undeniable that the paramilitary approach he espoused was seriously lacking in certain areas.[citation needed] The Christopher Commission formed in the wake of the riots issued a report that was generally considered to be scathingly critical of the department, and to a lesser extent of Gates' management of it. Late in 1992, Gates finally resigned.

Controversial rhetoric

Gates gained great notoriety for his controversial rhetoric on many occasions. Some of the most notable examples of this were:

  • his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that infrequent or casual drug users "ought to be taken out and shot" because "we're in a war" and even casual drug use is "treason."[3] He later said the testimony was calculated hyperbole.[4]
  • his dismissive response to concerns about excessive force by police employing "choke holds." Gates attributed several deaths of people held in choke holds to the theory that "blacks might be more likely to die from chokeholds because their arteries do not open as fast as they do on 'normal people.'"[5] (in his autobiography, Gates explained that he had been misquoted, saying that black people were more predisposed to vascular conditions and therefore less likely to have normally-functioning arteries.) This led some to refer to the iconic Los Angeles police cars as "Black and Normals" for a time.[citation needed]

Post-LAPD career

Gates remained active after leaving the LAPD, working with Sierra to create the computer game Police Quest IV: Open Season, an adventure game set in Los Angeles where gamers play the role of a Robbery/Homicide detective trying to solve a series of brutal murders. He appears in the game as Chief of Police, and can be found on one of the top floors of Parker Center. In addition, Gates has been the principal consultant for Sierra's SWAT series, appearing in them as well. In 1993, Gates was a talk show host on KFI, replacing Tom Leykis. His tenure was short lived but he remains a frequent guest on talk radio, especially in regards to policing issues. Gates also runs an investigation company called CHIEF, and has made frequent appearances on television and radio shows. In addition, Gates serves on the board of directors of Global ePoint[6], a security and homeland defense company dealing primarily in digital surveillance and security technology and PropertyRoom.com,[7] a website for police auctions.

In 1992 he published Chief: My Life in the LAPD, an autobiography, written with the assistance of Diane K. Shah (Bantam Books). The book has much detail about Gates's career and hig-profile cases, although the book went to press before the L.A. riots.[8]

After Bernard Parks was denied a second term as Chief of Police by Mayor James K. Hahn in 2002, Gates, aged 75, told CNN that he intended to apply for his old job as LAPD chief. This led Los Angeles media to ridicule Gates' announcement as a publicity stunt. Hahn eventually appointed William J. Bratton of Boston and New York City to head the department.

Daryl Gates is now the President and CEO of Global E-Point (GEPT), a manufacturer of physical security systems.

See also


  1. ^ Family Tree Legends
  2. ^ See main DARE article
  3. ^ Ronald J. Ostrow, Casual Drug Users Should Be Shot, Gates Says, L.A. TIMES, September 6, 1990, p. A1.
  4. ^ Daryl Gates. “Post No Bills” interview, 12/11/99
  5. ^ "Urban League in Los Angeles Asks Police Chief Suspension", The New York Times, May 12, 1982.
  6. ^ Global ePoint
  7. ^ PropertyRoom.com
  8. ^ Reppetto, Thomas A. (1992-06-21). "He Did It His Way". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/02/08/home/14675.html. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 

Additional reading

  • Cannon, Lou (1998). Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD. Crown. ISBN 0-8129-2190-9.
  • Corwin, Miles (1998). The Killing Season : A Summer Inside an LAPD Homicide Division. Fawcett. ISBN 0-449-00291-8.
  • Domanick, Joe (1994). To Protect and to Serve: The LAPD's Century of War in the City of Dreams. New York: Pocket Books.
  • Gates, Daryl F. (1992). Chief: My Life in the LAPD. New York: Bantam. ISBN 0-553-56205-3.
  • Starr, Kevin (2004). Coast of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2003. New York: Knopf.
  • Koon, Stacey (1992). Presumed Guilty : The Tragedy of the Rodney King Affair. Regnery Publishing. ISBN 0-89526-507-9.

External links

Police appointments
Preceded by
Robert F. Rock
Chief of Los Angeles Police Department
Succeeded by
Willie L. Williams

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