A ‘Desperate’ Daryl Gates Writes of His Son : Books: Account of Scott Gates’ drug use are in ‘Chief,’ which is due out next week.


The day Daryl F. Gates was sworn in as Los Angeles’ police chief, his son, Scott, attended the ceremony “under the influence of heroin,” Gates reveals in his autobiography, “Chief: My Life in the LAPD,” which goes on sale next week.

During the 1978 swearing-in ceremony, Gates writes that he eagerly scanned the crowd looking for his son and was “thrilled” when he finally spotted him. Although his son, then 22, looked “terrific,” Gates reports that he learned the truth several weeks later from a Sheriff’s Department informant: “Earlier that morning, Scott had a guy shoot him up with heroin for the first time.”

Gates’ confessions about his troubled relationship with his son are made in sections of the autobiography--co-written with journalist Diane K. Shah--supplied to The Times on Thursday by publisher Bantam Books. The book went to press before the recent Rodney King verdict and Los Angeles riots.

Although Gates has spoken publicly about his son’s involvement with drugs, his comments have usually been terse.


In the sections provided Thursday, he portrays himself as a tortured father who bought Scott bicycles, cars, motorcycles, clothes and other “material things . . . every time he seemed to be off drugs.” Scott, he writes, was an unplanned child whose birth was greeted with a mixture of joy and anxiety over how his parents would support the growing family.

Throughout the 1970s, Gates writes, “it wasn’t only murder and mayhem that preoccupied me. Drugs were constantly on my mind as I helplessly watched my son fall into the life of a chronic user.”

Driven by concern, Gates says, he took Scott to a number of psychiatrists and psychologists, including the Police Department’s. All assured him that his son would grow out of drug use. Once, Gates committed his son to a mental hospital for six months. But at best Scott could only string together a few drug-free months, his father writes.

As the senior Gates saw it, his son’s addictions only grew, from marijuana to cocaine, prescription drugs and heroin.

With Scott’s fourth arrest, in 1979, for drug possession, Gates says, he adopted a “tough love” approach, refusing to bail his son out and essentially cutting off contact.

“Never before had I said no to my son, and it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Gates writes. “But by then, I was as desperate in my own way as he was in his.”

Scott Gates’ numerous brushes with the law have been widely reported over the years, including the 1985 robbery of a Huntington Beach pharmacy. His last reported arrest was in 1988, when he was charged with being under the influence of narcotics, a misdemeanor.

After that arrest, Gates notes that his son again stayed off drugs for a while, adopting a “substitute addiction” for running and cycling. Hoping that Scott was finally on the road to a drug-free life, Gates says, he bought him a $1,300 bicycle so he could train for a triathalon.


Shortly afterward, Gates noticed that Scott was again drifting away, calling less frequently, telling “little lies,” until all contact ceased.

Gates concludes: “I live day to day, wondering whether my son’s going to make it. I will probably go to my grave believing there was something I could have done to prevent it--knowing, after all the analysis I’ve done, that there wasn’t a thing I could have done. Still, I can’t help thinking that I failed too.” In a 1982 interview with The Times, Gates said he had disowned his son because of chronic drug abuse but declined to go into detail.

In his book, however, Gates presents himself as a parent compelled to warn Scott’s girlfriends that his son was a thief and a liar. Gates recalls telling one of them, “He will con you out of your socks, believe me. He will take anything he can get.”

Shortly after that warning, Gates says, the woman came home to find that Scott “had stolen her TV and almost everything else.”


Gates also is the father of two daughters, both older than Scott. All three were born during his first marriage, which ended in divorce.

Publisher Bantam is keeping a tight lid on the autobiography, “Chief,” until its release next Wednesday, declining to provide complete advance copies to the media. Bantam spokesman Stuart Applebaum says the book contains biting comments on many public figures who have locked horns with Gates. In sections released last week, Gates attacked Mayor Tom Bradley and Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner. Other targets reportedly include Peter Ueberroth, former Olympics impresario and head of a program for post-riot reconstruction, and City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky.

Bantam has declined to say how many copies of “Chief” have been printed but says it has received orders from booksellers throughout the United States and Canada.