L.A. riot report rips Gates

  Haya El Nasser;Jonathan T. Lovitt


  USA Today


  Page 01A

  (Copyright 1992)


  LOS ANGELES - This city's leadership - from the mayor to the police chief -

  failed miserably during the April 29 riots, a special investigative panel said



  The 222-page report blasted former police chief Daryl Gates for failing to

  ``provide a real plan and meaningful training to control the disorder'' sparked by

  controversial verdicts in the Rodney King trial.


  The riots, in which 53 died, were the USA's deadliest.


  The panel, headed by former FBI and CIA chief William Webster, also said

  political infighting paralyzed officials when unity was crucial.


  The key stumbling block: Mayor Tom Bradley and Gates had not spoken for a



  The report criticized officials for accepting Gates' word that there was an

  adequate plan for coping with the anticipated violence.


  ``Gates had a responsibility to protect ... citizens,'' Webster said. ``There was too

  little help and it came too late.''


  Webster also warned ``it could happen again.''


  Gates, who retired in June and is now a radio talk-show host, promptly called the

  panel's leaders ``liars.''


  The report bluntly states that Gates misled the city.


  ``No plan was developed,'' said Police Foundation President Hubert Williams,

  also on the panel. ``There was a concern ... overt reaction might be considered as

  provocation, but we found that a strong reaction would have been essential to

  protect the citizens.''


  Responded an angry Gates: ``We should've blown a few heads off. Maybe that

  would've stopped it.''


  Gates insists he had a good plan that was poorly executed.


  The committee interviewed more than 400 residents and police and city officials

  before issuing recommendations, expected to serve as a blueprint for riot

  response elsewhere:


  - Increase police patrols. Currently, only 4% of LAPD officers patrol the city's



  - Shore up outdated emergency communications systems - including 911.


  - Develop a riot response plan before controversial riot-related trials end.


  - Improve coordination and cooperation among officials.


  Bradley ordered all city officials to follow the report's recommendations and

  develop a master plan for emergencies.


  ``The mayor is willing to accept the criticism,'' said mayoral spokeswoman

  Vallee Bunting. ``But any city that is saddled with an arrogant, unaccountable

  police chief will not be able to respond effectively in a crisis.''