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Chief Gates' end of watch -- two big days in downtown Los Angeles [UPDATED]

April 25, 2010 |  6:25 pm

This is going to be huge. H-U-G-E.

I mean the two days of obsequies for former police chief Daryl F. Gates, the man some who wore and still wear the LAPD uniform regarded as ‘’the chief,’’ until he died last week of cancer.

On Monday, there’s the closed-coffin viewing – a kind of lying-in-state – for eight hours at the new Los Angeles Police Department headquarters across from City Hall. (The old Parker Center is where Gates spent his 14 years as chief.)

The funeral for Gates – who had a Mormon mother and a Catholic father – is set for the next day, at 9.a.m., in the new cathedral a few blocks from the LAPD HQ.

The throngs who attended the recent memorial for LAPD SWAT officer and Marine reservist Robert Cottle, who was killed in Afghanistan -- just a foretaste of what the Gates ceremonies will be like.

Thousands of officers, from the LAPD and elsewhere, retired and active-duty, as well as figures from L.A.’s civic past and present, will no doubt be converging on downtown L.A. Already, the flags in front of the LAPD HQ and elsewhere are flying at half-staff.

You can read my column about the chief’s death and my earlier Q and A column with him from last year, the last extensive interview he did.

Gates' rites will be the closest thing to a state funeral that Los Angeles could have.

In fact, I think that if there were enough water in the L.A. River, they would put the chief’s coffin on a flaming barge, and, like Vikings, push it, ablaze, out to sea.

Corrected, 11:50 a.m. Monday: The original version of this post said that Gates was chief for 18 years. His tenure lasted 14 years, from 1978 until 1992.

-- Patt Morrison

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