Stop Me Before I Shill Again

Daryl Gates, the iron-fisted ex-police chief, isn't twirling his stick on the streets of Los Angeles anymore, but he's ready for action--of the virtual kind. Gates, who stepped aside last year in the wake of the Rodney King furor, has lent his name and expertise to a new multimedia computer game called Police Quest IV: Open Season.

The game doesn't grapple with anything resembling the devilish political and ethical problems Gates suffered after the videotaped beating his officers meted out to King. Instead, it's a tense whodunit, with the cops as the good guys: An LAPD detective is the hero who must catch a serial killer without getting iced himself. The maker of the $70 game, Sierra On-line Inc. in Oakhurst, Calif., hired Gates for an undisclosed sum to infuse it with gritty authenticity gleaned from his 43 years on the force.

Gates is a busy guy. "When I retired, I told myself I wasn't going to do anything that wasn't fun," he says. He's also on the rubber-chicken circuit and has a two-hour weekly L.A. radio call-in show.

Has Gates mellowed? Not quite. In the game, the hero is confronted by a dog. "I would have shot the dog," Gates says with a smile. But the game-meisters didn't want that much gritty authenticity. They settled for tossing the hound a bone.