Daryl F. Gates, who rose from driver for a legendary Los Angeles police chief to become chief himself, leading the department during a turbulent 14-year period that found him struggling to keep pace with a city undergoing dramatic racial and ethnic changes, has died at 83, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The controversial chief, whose tenure ran from 1978 to 1992, spent his four-decade career at the Los Angeles department, 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 U.S., and other advances, including a communications system that reduced police response times, bolstered his reputation. 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. Watch this site this weekend for an analysis of Gates’ career by Joe Domanick of the Center for Media, Crime and Justice, who has written a book on the Los Angeles Police Department.