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March 10, 2009 5:00 PM

Kerlikowske - the drug czar

Posted by Joni Balter

Once again, one of our top Northwest leaders, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, is heading to Washington, D.C., to join the Obama administration. The White House will make official Wednesday morning that he has been picked as the drug czar, a cabinet level position.
Seattle Times reporters Steve Miletich and Mike Carter knew all about this a few weeks ago, but now it gets the White House stamp and the excitement and detail that goes with it.

As editorial writer and news-side reporter, I have covered several Seattle police chiefs and think Kerlikowske has been one of our best. He is a true cop, actively championing gun control, and more to the point of his new job, unafraid to say that policing marijuana should be the department's lowest law enforcement priority.
The outgoing chief opposed an initiative to that effect earlier this decade but also said that arresting people for marijuana possession for personal use already was a very low priority.
Over the years, some said Kerlikowske was too soft in disciplining police offcers
But his appointment Wednesday is clear recognition that he got a lot of it right in Seattle; he leaves a big opening to fill for Mayor Greg Nickels who is up for re-election this year.
This city has a noticeable gang problem but Kerlikowske kept the peace. Overall crime reached historic lows in recent years..

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