The Webster Commission report on the Los Angeles riots blasts former police chief Darryl F. Gates for improper handling of the conflict.
1992 (Oct 22)
The 222-page Webster Commission report on the Los Angeles riots blasted former police chief Darryl F. Gates for improper handling of the conflict. It also recommended solutions for avoiding future disturbances. Headed by FBI and CIA chief William Webster, the Webster Commission blamed Chief Gates for failing to provide an effective plan and meaningful training to control the disorder sparked by the controversial verdicts in the Rodney King trial. It also said political infighting paralyzed officials when unity was crucial. "Gates had a responsibility to protect citizens," Webster said. "There was too little help and it came too late." Gates, who retired in June, took a job as a radio talk show host. Angry over the report, he responded: "We should've blown a few heads off. Maybe that would have stopped it," according to a news report in USA Today. Gates insisted that he had a good plan that was poorly executed. The committee interviewed more than 400 residents, police, and city officials before issuing recommendations. They were expected to serve as a blueprint for riot response in other areas of the country. Some of the recommendations included increasing police patrols; shoring up outdated emergency communications systems, including 911; developing a riot response plan before controversial riot-related trials end; and improving coordination and cooperation among officials. The Webster Commission report prompted response in other areas such as Dallas, where police chief William Rathburn called for a national riot police squad similar to those in France and other countries. Fifty-three people died during the riot, making it the most deadly riot in U.S. history.