Former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates is seriously ill

Gates, 83, a controversial figure who presided over the department from 1978 to 1992, is being treated at an Orange County hospital, Chief Charlie Beck announced.

By Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein
February 17, 2010

Daryl F. Gates, whose controversial tenure heading the Los Angeles Police Department continues to make him a polarizing figure 18 years after his retirement, is ill with a “very serious malady,” Police Chief Charlie Beck announced Tuesday.

Beck did not disclose the nature of the illness, but officials with knowledge of the former chief’s condition said the 83-year-old Gates has been in an Orange County hospital with bladder cancer that has spread to the bones near his hip. Gates has been receiving radiation treatments, and his doctors want him to start chemotherapy for a tumor in his bladder.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they had not been authorized to discuss Gates’ medical condition publicly.

Beck told the Police Commission during its Tuesday meeting that he had visited Gates in the hospital over the weekend.

“I ask everyone to keep him in their prayers,” Beck told the commission.

A longtime colleague who visited Gates recently said he was in good spirits and remained optimistic about full recovery.

Gates is one of the most controversial figures in LAPD history: a chief admired for his tough-on-crime style but criticized for creating a department some believe was hostile — and at times brutal — toward minority groups. A one-time driver for former Chief William H. Parker, Gates rose through the ranks to serve as department chief from 1978 to 1992. Throughout his career he made headlines, often verbally sparring with Mayor Tom Bradley, council members and even the police union. Known for helping bring in the modern SWAT team, Gates is credited with modernizing the LAPD.

But his brusque manner and sometimes inflammatory statements angered civil rights activists. In a 1982 Times story on a plan to ban chokeholds, Gates suggested that African Americans had a medical condition that made them more susceptible to the tactic than “normal people.”

In an interview last year, Gates said that his comments were taken out of context and that medical information provided to the department supported him.

Still, Gates’ methods brought protests from minority activists, culminating with the highly embarrassing videotaped beating of Rodney King, an African American car-chase suspect, by officers in March 1991.

In the wake of the King beating, the Christopher Commission issued a report in July 1991 blaming police leadership for the failure to stop brutality and suggested that Gates retire. Later that year, amid growing pressure, Gates announced that he would leave his post in 1992. In April 1992, after a jury acquitted four officers in the King beating, riots erupted that eventually took the lives of 53 people. After the violence, Gates, who was still chief at the time, was the target of renewed criticism over what many considered the department’s sluggish response. Two months later, he stepped down.

He retired to Orange County, where he helped create video games, including one with a SWAT theme — and was known for his intense exercise regimen.

From time to time, Gates would turn up at smaller LAPD-related events, where he drew extended applause from loyalists.

He made a cameo appearance as a Los Angeles police chief giving the eulogy for a dead officer in the 2008 Keanu Reeves film “Street Kings.”

“Los Angeles police officers are praying that Chief Gates will have a quick recovery and be able to get back to making frequent appearances to honor officers for their service — from retirements and funerals to ceremonies and charity events — as soon as possible,” said Paul M. Weber, president of the L.A. Police Protective League.

richard.winton@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

Posted by on Feb 17 2010. Filed under Good Cop / Bad Cop. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 Comments for “Former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates is seriously ill”

  1. RATHONE

    I dont like THIS RACIST SON OF A chick!!!

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