Pubdate: Fri, 5 Dec 2008
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2008 El Paso Times
Author: Stephanie Sanchez


EL PASO -- Sometimes controversial and always outspoken, former Los 
Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates said Thursday that casual drug users 
in the U.S. are at the root of the violence in Juarez and should be shot.

Gates was in El Paso to speak at a ceremony for graduating peace officers.

Gates, who led the Los Angeles Police Department from 1978 to 1992, 
also predicted that the violence in Juarez would spill over into El 
Paso and that law enforcement agencies on the U.S. side should be prepared.

"I don't think the people in the United States are grasping what a 
serious problem it is. Mexico has lost more people in a very short 
period of time than those lost in Iraq or Afghanistan," he said.

"I think, you know, I have such a low opinion of the people in the 
United States who continue to use drugs. They are really responsible 
for what's happening in Mexico -- they really are. We go along every 
day. We don't take that responsibility that we ought to assume. 
Somebody asked me one time about casual drug users, I said they ought 
to take them out and shoot them."

The statement, he said, is an exaggeration, but it emphasizes the point.

Gates, who was in law enforcement for 43 years and was involved 
solving high-profile crimes such as the Manson murders and the 
Hillside Strangler case, talked to Advertisement Quantcast 34 
graduates of the El Paso Police Department Basic Peace Officer Course 
and two graduates of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Gates told the new officers that their duty was to serve and protect, 
to have reverence for the law and to preserve the integrity of their badges.

"Unfortunately, in Mexico, there's a mix," he said after the 
ceremony. "You've got people in law enforcement who have not 
maintained that integrity. They've tarnished the badge and some of 
them have paid for it, dearly.

"So it's a very difficult for a chief to acquire those kind of 
individuals that you just saw here on the stage in El Paso. Very, 
very difficult. Without that kind of quality people, any chief -- I 
don't care where it is, but particularly right now in Mexico -- 
(fighting crime) is almost an impossible task," said Gates. He has 
been credited with initiating the city's first SWAT team and was 
police chief during the Rodney King beating.

The Mexican government, he said, should continue to use the more than 
1,600 soldiers deployed around Juarez since the beginning of the year 
to help stop the execution- and ambush-style slayings. More than 
1,400 people have been killed so far this year.

Law enforcement in El Paso, Gates said, should also be prepared in 
case the violence spills over.

"You're so close to the border. I think it's something that every 
police officer ought to give a lot of thought, because it can spill 
over here very, very quickly. Very quickly," he said. "Again, El Paso 
being so close. The problems are going to spill over. They have to."

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said officers in the department are 
aware of the potential spillover in violence. When officers take the 
oath, he said, they make the commitment of stepping in harm's way.

"They would not really be up to speed if they weren't paying 
attention to things like (the violence in Juarez). It affects the 
community, it affects them," Allen said. "With that aspect in mind, 
they have to be aware of the events that are affecting their city." 
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