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Ex-LAPD chief Gates hospitalized with cancer

February 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates is in the hospital, suffering from bladder cancer that's now quickly spreading. Gates is being treated at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, which is in close proximity to his San Clemente home.

He was admitted to the hospital three weeks ago when he felt horrible pain in his hip. Gates has been battling bladder cancer, but the cancer has spread to his bones recently, attacking the area near his hip.

Earlier Tuesday, current L.A. police Chief Charlie Beck described Gates, 83, as having a "very serious malady," when speaking of the former chief's condition to the city Police Commission. Beck, who visited Gates in the hospital over the weekend, also asked the public to keep him in their prayers.

Law enforcement officials have been stopping by the hospital Tuesday to pay Gates a visit.

"He sends his regards, and the outpouring of everyone has just been overwhelming, and he absolutely wants to make sure that everyone knows how much he appreciates that," said retired LAPD Assistant Chief Michael Hillmann. "He's a tough guy, and he's somebody that's going to endure. His health right now is in god's hands."

"He had morale probably the highest it's ever been, and that's very important amongst police officers. They worked hard for Chief Daryl Gates because they believed in him and he believed in them," said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. "From the rank and file all the way up, he was well respected."

Gates was a controversial figure during his tenure as police chief, once quoted as saying that drug users should be shot. His 43-year career at the LAPD came to an end when he retired in 1992 amid heavy criticism over the department's handling of the Rodney King beating and the subsequent L.A. riots.

Gates was well liked by those he led, and he is known for cracking down on police corruption and modernizing crime-solving methods. He is also credited for approving the first SWAT team to deal with crisis situations, and he also helped start the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, teaching students about the dangers of drugs.

"History will be replete with everything he did in creating the SWAT team, and now the SWAT units and the SWAT discipline and the whole program all over the United States was the result of his foresight and vision," said Hillmann.

Gates is known to attend Baker to Vegas, an annual relay race for law enforcement officers, and Hillmann said that when he visited him in the hospital, Gates stood up and told the officers that he will be at this year's race which takes place in April.

"Baker to Vegas, he's famous for. Even though he's been retired for 17 or 18 years, when he walks into that auditorium with 10,000 police officers from around the country, he gets a standing ovation. No current sitting chief of police gets the same ovation he does. He's a rock star among law enforcement officers," said Amormino.

In a statement released Tuesday, Gate's brother said that his family expects him to make a full recovery.

After leaving the LAPD, Gates formed a corporate security firm. Currently, he remains hospitalized in Orange County.

AP contributed to this report.


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