Controversial (to say the least) former LAPD chief Daryl F. Gates died today at the age of 83, after a short fight with cancer.
From the extensive L.A. Times obit:
The controversial chief, whose tenure ran from 1978 to 1992, spent his entire four-decade career at the LAPD, where he won national attention for innovative approaches to crime fighting and prevention: He instituted military-style SWAT teams to handle crises and the gentler DARE classroom program to prevent drug abuse. These initiatives, emulated by police departments across the United States, and other advances, such as a communications system that reduced police response times, bolstered his reputation as an exemplar of modern law enforcement. President George H.W. Bush called him an “all-American hero.”
A proud emblem of progress to some, he was a disturbing symbol of stagnation to others. When the city went up in flames over the acquittal of four white officers accused of beating black motorist Rodney King, he was castigated as a leader out of touch with the changing realities of the city, yet to the end he remained righteous about his authority to police it.
Faced with a proliferation of illegal drugs and street violence, he hammered gangs with police sweeps and broke into crack dens with an armored vehicle armed with a steel battering ram. He made no apologies for declaring that casual drug users should be shot.
By turns charming and brash, articulate and tactless, he generated controversy with gaffes about Latinos, blacks and Jews, most famously with a remark about blacks faring poorly under police chokeholds because their physiology was different from that of “normal” people.
No news on the L.A. Sentinel’s website yet. Let’s just say we’ll be curious to see what they have to say on Gates’ passing.
Photo Credit: LA Times