Senate Confirms National Drug Control Policy Director

WASHINGTON (Thursday, May 7, 2009) – The Senate Thursday afternoon confirmed the nomination of Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske to be the Director of National Drug Control Policy.  Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) chaired a hearing on Kerlikowske’s nomination on April 1, and the Committee reported the nomination to the full Senate for consideration on April 23. 

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,

On The Nomination Of Gil Kerlikowske To Be Director Of National Drug Control Policy

May 7, 2009

Today, at last, the Senate considers President Obama’s nomination of Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske to be Director of National Drug Control Policy.  This highly-qualified nominee has drawn widespread support, and I had hoped the Senate would confirm him before our last recess.  I look forward to his being confirmed today with strong bipartisan support.

Chief Kerlikowske has almost 40 years of experience in law enforcement, including in his current role as Chief of Police for the Seattle Police Department.  In his long career in public service, Chief Kerlikowske has demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of narcotics issues.  He currently serves as the elected President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, and he began his career as an Outstanding Military Police Officer Honor Graduate in the U.S. Military Police in 1970.  He served as the police commissioner of Buffalo, New York, and as the police chief in two Florida cities, Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie.  He worked in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration, where he served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Community Oriented Police Services.   

I want to thank the Senators from Washington State, Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell, for their strong endorsement of this outstanding nominee at our April 1 hearing and for their continued efforts in support of his confirmation.  

Chief Kerlikowske’s nomination has received numerous letters of support, including strong endorsements from Republican and Democratic public officials, State and local law enforcement officials, the National Center for Victims of Crime, the United States Conference of Mayors, the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police, and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.  General Barry R. McCaffrey, who led the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the Clinton administration, writes that Chief Kerlikowske “is known and highly respected internationally for his knowledge of crime and drugs.”

Mary Lou Leary, the Executive Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, describes Chief Kerlikowske as a “strong manager,” who is “committed to crime prevention” and who “understands the connection between illegal drugs and crime.”  Arthur T. Dean, the Chairman and CEO of the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America, wrote that Chief Kerlikowske understands that drug policy “must be comprehensive and coordinated” and “recognizes that the perspectives of those closest to the ground – state and local enforcement, prevention, treatment, and recovery professionals – play a critical role in this strategy.” 

As a former prosecutor, I have always advocated vigorous enforcement and punishment of those who commit serious crimes.  Along with others who serve in law enforcement, I also know that punishment alone will not solve the problems of drugs and violence in our rural communities.  I am pleased that Mr. Kerlikowske supports combating drug use and crime with all the tools at our disposal, including enforcement, prevention, and treatment. 

I congratulate Chief Kerlikowske and his family on his confirmation today, and I look forward to working with him in the years ahead.

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