Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, nominated by President Obama to lead the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, has seldom bucked prevailing local sentiment in a city with greater tolerance for drugs than much of the U.S., says the Washington Post. Seldom, though, has he been out front, the newspaper says in a profile. His views seem in sync with the drug policies Obama will pursue: a reorientation away from the Bush administration’s focus on curbing the supply of illegal drugs and toward greater emphasis on preventing and treating addiction. As drug policy director, he would oversee a staff of more than 100 and a $440 million budget.
Kerlikowske has supported King County’s drug court, one of the nation’s most active, which gives people arrested on drug charges a chance at treatment rather than jail. Community policing — not drug policy — has defined Kerlikowske’s career. The word “drugs” is not in a list of accomplishments on the police chief’s Web site. Kerlikowske, 59, is an intellectual relatively soft-spoken figure. “Without a lot of fanfare or hoopla, Gil has made clear that, as far as the police are concerned, they are really to give attention to the prevention-rehabilitation side of things, as well as the enforcement side of things,” said Hubert Locke, a retired University of Washington professor of public affairs.