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Chief: My Life In The L.A.P.D. Hardcover – May 1, 1992
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Top Customer Reviews
Officer Gates learned there were more traffic deaths than homicides in 1950 LA. People got citations because warnings had no deterrence (p.20). The people Gates encountered were no poorer than he had been, but the Gates home was never without hope (p.23). Chapter 3 tells of the corruption in the LAPD before Chief Parker. Gates says Mayor Shaw and the underworld controlled the LAPD (but doesn't speak of the local ruling class). Gates was picked to be Chief Parker's chauffeur, and learned the importance of political support (p.31). Gates also learned of Parker's faults. Chief Parker streamlined the organization, reassigned police by time of day and neighborhood where crimes were committed. Parker instituted pro-active policing, creating the most aggressive police department in the country. Page 36 tells of the power of the 'Los Angeles Times': it elected mayors, and told the City Council how to vote (no mention of the powers behind them). Chapter 5 tells how hard he worked at preparing for exams. Gates came out first for the sergeant's exam, and for every exam afterwards (p.58). Promoted to lieutenant, he rejoined Chief Parker, and became his executive officer (p.65).
Promoted to captain, he learned "you can't give up on people" (p.68). Soon he was in charge of Intelligence. Gates noticed a lack of good protection for JFK in 1963 (pp.73-4). Gates explained the conflict between Chief Parker and J Edgar Hoover (p.76). Mob influence was minimal in LA, compared to Chicago or NY (p.78). There were checks and balances to avoid corruption (p.85). Gates was promoted to inspector in 1965, before the Watts riot. The postwar baby boom led to a huge increase in the number of young people, the predominant age group for criminals (p.105). Gates political skills paid off when he won the biggest pay raise in department history (p.130). The May 1974 incident with the SLA made SWAT famous.
"People really don't have the freedom to know what is going on in the world, only the freedom to know what the media wants us to know" (p.181). Proposition 13 "substantially lowered property taxes", and Chief Gates came up with a budget cut that avoided layoffs. One of Gates decisions was to allow each officer to choose when to wear a short-sleeved shirt. Gates discusses the two "chokeholds": one disables, the other can kill (p.214). Page 216 tells how the 'LA Times' misquoted him. Page 242 tells how the FBI tried to gain control of the LAPD. Chapter 19 tells of his efforts for gun-control. Was he angling for a plush job with Gun Control Inc? Or a Federal job with some agency (p.128)? Chapter 20 has some suggestions on fighting crime. The Rodney King beating gave his many enemies a chance to oust him (Chapter 22). Gates boasts of the lower ratio of police to population compared to NY or Chicago. But the places with less population density tend to have less crime. And so do places with "the right to keep and bear arms". This also made LA different from NY and Chicago. LA also has a lower ratio of pedestrians.
It is page turning reading for anyone wanting to read a down to earth biography, which contains fascinating glimpses into the inner and often hidden world of a Police Career.
I especially wanted to read this as I lived in Los Angeles during some of the years when Daryl Gates was the Chief.
It is interesting to compare his story alongside todays world of Bill Bratton (Zero Tolerance),style Policing and the current search for the new head of the London Met.
It is almost impossible in either of the two worlds of London or L.A. to separate Politics and Policing.
This book bridges both and kept me interested and engaged.
Daryl Gates is probably more responsible for helping shape modern policing more than any other person in recent history. The DARE program, SWAT, bringing professionalism to the job. Plus being an advisor to one of my favorite shows, Dragnet.
It is trully sad the majority of people are only familiar with the final twilight episodes of an amazing career. Take the time to read about the other 40 years he devoted to serving the city of Los Angeles.