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(Washington, D.C.) – U.S Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) today introduced Seattle Police Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske at his confirmation hearing to be Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). 

Murray delivered the following remarks at Kerlikowske’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Specter, and Members of the Committee.

“Along with my colleague Senator Cantwell and members of our House delegation, it’s my pleasure to introduce Gil Kerlikowske, the Chief of the Seattle Police Department, at this important hearing.

“I want to welcome Chief Kerlikowske and his wife, Anna Laszlo [Laz-Lo], to this hearing and congratulate his entire family on the honor of being nominated as the next Director of the Office of Drug Control Policy. 

“I’d also like to thank Chief Kerlikowske and his family for accepting this responsibility at this important time in our nation’s history. 

The Challenges

“Mr. Chairman, we know the next ONDCP Director will face a number of key challenges.

“ONDCP will play a leading role in addressing the drug-related violence in Mexico and along the southwest border.  If we don’t take the right steps to tackle this problem now, we will find these drugs and this violence in towns and neighborhoods thousands of miles from the Mexican border. 

“We also know from history, that as the economy falls, crime rises. 

“Crime is growing at the same time that law enforcement agencies across the country face painful cutbacks and greater strains on personnel and resources.  Law enforcement from all different levels must work smarter, forge new relationships and leverage the resources they have. 

Personal

“Mr. Chairman, Chief Kerlikowske is the right man to address these challenges. 

“He 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 people he has led, have been on the front lines of our nation’s war against illicit narcotics and in keeping our communities safe. 

“He’ll bring this hands-on perspective to ONDCP.

A New Perspective at ONDCP – State and Local

“Chief Kerlikowske understands the importance of partnerships between ONDCP and our state and local law enforcement 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 his work first-hand as the Seattle Police Chief.   This past December, the Seattle Police Department, in cooperation with county, state and federal law enforcement agencies 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.  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 America’s communities safer. 

A New Perspective – Fight Crime, Invest in Kids

“Mr. Chairman, Chief Kerlikowske also understands that the drug war will not be won on the streets.

“For the past 9 years, he has been the National Board Chairman for the group, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. 

“As this committee knows, this is a group of police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, and other law enforcement leaders who could easily be fighting only for more cops, more jails and longer prison sentences. 

“But instead, under the guidance of Chief Kerlikowske, they are working on prevention.  They are fighting for early childhood intervention funding, after school programs, and efforts to prevent child abuse as an effective way to fight crime. 

“Chief Kerlikowske knows that the best way to end the use of drugs and spread of crime is to prevent it.  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.  And I’m proud to support his confirmation.

“Thank you.”