Rare is the public official who would remain unfazed amid calls for his resignation from figures as varied as Jesse Jackson and George Will. Such was the predicament of Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates during the city's 1992 riots. Gates stepped down two months after the looting. For many, the Rodney King beating that incited the riots was a direct result of Gates' philosophy of public safety. He was, after all, credited with inventing the modern SWAT team. But a strong hand also enabled Gates to preside over a peaceful 1984 Olympic Games. Gates died on April 16 at age 83.
This text originally appeared in the May 3, 2010 issue of TIME Magazine.
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