News Releases

AUDIO:  Murray Delivers speech on the Senate floor urging her colleagues to vote to confirm Chief Kerlikowske

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) voted to help confirm former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske to be Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The Senate confirmed his nomination by a vote of 91-1. Prior to the vote, Senator Murray took the Senate floor to deliver a speech highlighting Chief Kerlikowske’s qualifications and urging her Senate colleagues to support his confirmation.

“Chief Kerlikowske brings a fresh, new perspective to the job as the nation’s drug czar,” Murray said. “He is a cop’s cop, and his perspective was shaped patrolling the streets in Florida, New York and Washington state. Along the way he has helped thousands of people touched by violence and drugs.”

The following is the full text of Senator Murray’s speech:

Mr. President, our nation’s next Drug Czar will face a number of key challenges.

The Office of Drug Control Policy will play a leading role in addressing the drug-related violence in Mexico and along the southwest border. An area where if we don’t take the right steps to tackle problems today, we will most certainly see the spread of violence and drugs into towns and neighborhoods thousands of miles from the Mexican border.

We also know from history, that as the economy falls, crime rises. And that crime is growing at the same time that law enforcement agencies across the country face painful cutbacks and greater strains on personnel and resources.

It will therefore be incumbent upon the next Drug Czar to ensure that law enforcement at all levels is working smarter, forging new relationships and leveraging the resources they have.

We will also have to address the rise in prescription drug abuse, the continued scourge of methamphetamine use, and the violence that affects so many of our communities due to drug trafficking.

Mr. President, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske is the right man to address these big challenges. Chief Kerlikowske brings a fresh, new perspective to the job as the nation’s drug czar. He is a cop’s cop, and his perspective was shaped patrolling the streets in Florida, New York and Washington state.

Along the way he has helped thousands of people touched by violence and drugs. He, and the law enforcement officials he has led, have been on the front lines of our nation’s war against illicit narcotics and in keeping our communities safe.

And I know that he’ll bring this hands-on perspective to his job as our nation’s Drug Czar. Chief Kerlikowske also understands the importance of partnerships between ONDCP and our state and local law enforcement communities, because he has been on the local level.

As the head of the Major Cities Chiefs organization, which represents the 63 largest police departments in the US, he sees the common problems facing cities across the country.

I’ve seen this first-hand in his work as Seattle Police Chief. This past December, under Chief Kerlikowske’s leadership the Seattle Police Department, in cooperation with county, state and federal law enforcement agencies was able to bust a drug ring that stretched from Mexico to Idaho to Seattle.

And Chief Kerlikowske worked cooperatively to create a regional response to gang violence in Seattle and King County. He built a coalition with the King County Sheriff’s Office, other King County police chiefs, the Washington Department of Corrections, the ATF and other community leaders to tackle persistent gang violence in our neighborhoods. These multi-agency, federal-local partnerships require cooperation and compromise. And they require a leader with Chief Kerlikowske’s experience to bring them together.

Local police chiefs and sheriffs have told me that they are “Sorry to see him go” but that the nation is gaining a true innovator in Gil Kerlikowske. I know he will continue to work on these relationships with state and local law enforcement across the country – and that this approach will make all of our country’s communities safer.

Mr President, Chief Kerlikowske also understands that the drug war will not only be won on the streets but also in our classrooms and homes.

For the past 9 years, he has been the National Board Chairman for the group, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Under the guidance of Chief Kerlikowske, this group has focused their efforts on the importance of prevention by fighting for early childhood intervention funding, after school programs, and efforts to prevent child abuse. Chief Kerlikowske knows that the best way to end the use of drugs and spread of crime is to prevent it and he will bring this common-sense thinking to ONDCP.

Chief Kerlikowske has served the people of our state well, and will serve the people of our nation well. I’m proud to support his confirmation and urge my colleagues to do the same.