Daryl Gates Biography

law enforcement official
Born: 8/30/1926
Died: 4/16/2010
Best Known as: police chief during the Rodney King beating and Los Angeles riots

After stints in the U.S. Navy and later as a student at the University of Southern California, where he earned an undergraduate degree, Daryl Gates joined the Los Angeles Police Department as a patrolman in 1949, moving through the ranks until he reached chief in 1978. During his tenure as chief, Gates was known for advocating a strong police presence—increasing the number of police officers on the streets and introducing innovative policing tools. Gates pioneered the use of helicopters in police enforcement, developed the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) elite unit, and established the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, which brings police officers into schools to teach kids how to avoid destructive behavior. While he was at the helm of the LAPD, the city experienced a cultural shift in the 1980s with increased crime and changing attitudes toward minorities. The tensions flared with the airing of a video tape showing the brutal beating of Rodney King, a African-American parolee, at the hands of white officers. Gates defended the LAPD. He remained chief, but was forced to resign after violent riots erupted in the city following the officers' acquittals.

After leaving law enforcement, Gates pursued various entrepreneurial avenues, including publishing a best-selling memoir Chief: My Life in the LAPD, and creating 1993's "Police Quest: Open Season," the fourth title in the Police Quest line of adventure games. After a short battle with cancer, Daryl Gates died at home in Dana Point, Calif. at age 83.