Chief Daryl F. Gates served as the Los Angeles Chief of Police from 1978 to 1992. Taking over as Chief of Police in 1978 was no easy task after Proposition 13 slashed through the police budget. Gates not only had to learn how to be the highest ranking cop in Los Angeles, he also had to learn how to do the job of the Chiefs before him with fewer resources and especially less money; not to mention the fact that the population at that time was growing so fast that it surpassed that of Chicago to become the nation’s second largest city.
Even with the budget constraints of the time, Chief Gates was able to successfully direct two security operations of international importance. The first was the 1984 Summer Olympic Games and the second was the two day visit in 1987 of Pope John Paul II.
The late 1980s also presented problems for the Chief in regards to the illegal drug trade and gang violence. During that period Los Angeles was host to 200 street gangs and 10 motorcycle gangs with most of the violence in the city being related to illegal narcotics in some way. In an effort to prevent future drug problems Chief Gates created and implemented a program known as Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE. This program is aimed at school aged children to teach them the dangers of illegal drug use in the hopes that they will not begin or continue using illegal drugs. The program was so popular and so effective that it is now taught in almost every school district.
Chief Gates also originated the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) program after seeing the need for specially trained officers to deploy into high risk situations who where knowledge of advanced response tactics was necessary.
In an effort to do more with less, Chief Gates turned to the help of the citizens to fill various non-sworn and volunteer positions within the department. With less sworn officers doing administrative work, more sworn officers were available to patrol the streets. In most cases, administrative services of the Los Angeles Police Department were run by civilian (non-sworn) “Officers in Charge”. Other non paid volunteers in the agency were also used to help lighten the load of the paid employees and worked in every aspect of the department from administrative volunteers to volunteer police officers.
Chief Gates was also responsible for overseeing the activation of what was the most sophisticated piece of communications equipment at the time. The Emergency Command Control Communications System greatly reduced the response time of police officers to citizen calls for service by installing mobile computer units in all patrol vehicles. The unites allowed police officers to be delivered vital information regarding the nature of the emergency while allowing them to communicate amongst each other without taking up radio air time.
Daryl F. Gates has been described as one of the best Police Chiefs of the City of Los Angeles on multiple occasions for the contributions which he made to the field of law enforcement and the advances in technology and tactics which he provided to police officers not just across America but around the world.
The LAPD: Chief Gates. The Los Angeles Police Department.