Prediction: Kerlikowske Will Reorient Drug War To Treatment


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.

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