Gil Kerlikowske (b. 1950 ) is the "Drug czar," otherwise known as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Obama administration. He was appointed in March 2009, and confirmed by the Senate on May 7, 2009. Kerlikowske reports directly to President Obama. His job as the Drug czar is to direct drug-control policy in the U.S., and he is expected to shift drug policy to intervention, treatment and a reduction of problem drug use. As drug czar, Kerlikowske will emphasize efforts to combat the drug trade in Mexico and its effects across the Southwest. Kerlikowske has maintained a national profile, paying special attention to gun control, immigration and electronic data mining of private records.
Kerlikowske ran two small police departments in Florida, then became chief of police in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1994. He remained Police Chief for the city of Buffalo from 1994 to 1998. From 1998 to 2000, Kerlikowske was Deputy Director of the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Kerlikowske became Seattle's police chief in 2000 and brought the city's crime rate to a 40-year low, despite a resurgences in youth and gang violence. He was police chief for the city of Seattle from 2000 to 2009.
In 2004 he allowed himself to be shocked with 50,000 volts of electricity in order to demonstrate the nonlethal nature of the taser.
In 2003, a ballot measure in Seattle was proposed that would have directed the police department to consider marijuana possession (for personal use) a low priority. Kerlikowske opposed the ballot initiative, but said such arrests were already a low priority and that his department was focusing its drug arrests on cocaine and heroin traffickers.
Gil Kerlikowske is a strong gun-control advocate, and had urged both the Washington legislature and the U.S. Congress to pass an assault-weapons ban and has worked to close the loophole that doesn't require background checks at gun shows.
- Kate Pickert, "Gil Kerlikowske: Obama's New Drug Czar," Time Feb. 13, 2009