Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kerlikowske sails through the Senate

Kerlikowske sails through the Senate; AP

After years of overseeing drug-enforcement policies in the Seattle Police Department, former Chief Gil Kerlikowske now will take what he learned to a national stage.

On Thursday, Kerlikowske, as expected, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a position commonly known as "drug czar."

Kerlikowske, a 36-year law-enforcement veteran who has been Seattle's top cop for nine years, has pledged to take a balanced approach to the job using scientific study to shape policy. He also said he will focus on reducing demand for illicit drugs in the United States — a sharp contrast from the Bush administration's focus on intercepting drugs as they cross the border and punishing drug crimes.

Kerlikowske's official last day as police chief was last Friday. Seattle Deputy Chief John Diaz has been named the city's interim chief and said he will seek the job.

The Senate approved Kerlikowske's nomination 91-1, with a nay from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

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