Gates was chief of police in Los Angeles from 1978 to 1992, his tenure ending shortly after the riots that followed the jury verdicts exonerating officers in the Rodney King beating. Gates died today of cancer at his Dana Point home. From the LAT obituary:
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.
He joined the LAPD in 1949, while a pre-law student at USC, and for 15 months served as the driver to Chief William Parker. As chief himself, Gates clashed repeatedly with the mayor, Tom Bradley. More coverage: Timeline, DN, KPCC, CBS 2
"Chief Gates accomplished great things in both good and difficult economic times. And the successes of several major programs and events in the city of Los Angeles and around the world, especially the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Games, have their roots in the leadership achievements of Daryl Gates." LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
"If you go to areas of the Valley, police organizations, officers' funerals . . . he gets the loudest ovation." City Councilman Bernard Parks, a former chief.
"He never made the adjustment to the new L.A." Ramona Ripston, longtime head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
"Los Angeles has suffered a great loss....Chief Gates was a truly devoted public servant who committed his life to improving the lives of others in Los Angeles. He was a man of courage and character who had a deep commitment to the rule of law, with a deep pride of the LAPD." Paul Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League.
"While an honorable man, a devoted public servant and a capable crime-fighter who might have made a decent police chief in an earlier era, Gates was a hidebound, egomaniacal figure who was so wrong for the job at the time he served in it that he nearly destroyed the city he was charged with protecting." Los Angeles Times editorial.
"One of the towering figures in that period in Los Angeles history...he also, in the long run, did more harm that good to the police department." Jim Newton, LAT editor-at-large who covered Gates at the LAPD.
"If I was to name those riots, I would call them the Daryl Gates riots." Joe Domanick, author of "To Protect and To Serve,” a history of the LAPD, calling the 1992 riots Gates' biggest legacy.
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images at CBS2