Chicago cops lead charge against Illinois CCW measure
May 15, 2011
by Joseph P. Tartaro
The Chicago Police Department has joined forces with Illinois anti-gun groups to oppose a proposed concealed carry measure, arguing that the state’s mental health screening system has flaws that could allow the wrong people to obtain concealed carry permits.
The news came simultaneous to the revelation that Gil Kerlikowske, a former police chief in four different US cities and now the Obama administration’s director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, often referred to as the “drug czar,” was a contender to become Chicago’s next police superintendent.
Perhaps it is no surprise that the Chicago News Coop reports that Kerlikowske is on Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s short-list to become the Windy City’s new police superintendent. They have worked together in the past.
Kerlikowski has a long connection to anti-gun proposals, and demonstrates a policy developed by the anti-gunners years ago, that wrote a primer for police opposition to “shall issue” laws.
Emanual knew Kerlikowske well before the mayor-elect worked as the Obama’s Chief of Staff in 2009-2010.
Kerlikowske joined the Obama administration in 2009 after serving as Seattle’s police chief for nine years, but he had worked with the Clinton White House in several capacities and was one of the show-police-chiefs who were paraded by President Clinton to get the Brady Act and the Crime Bill with gun ban passed in 1993 and ’94.
Kerlikowske’s law enforcement career has been a continuous climb, one rung up the ladder at a time. Now he is viewed as a viable candidate for the Chicago position, which would give him even greater national recognition, a higher salary, and even more policy leverage.
In fighting the Illinois carry measure now in the hopper in Springfield, Windy City police pointed to a 2009 State Police report that complained of “significant information gaps” in the state’s ability to properly screen people with severe mental problems, according to the Associated Press.
Kerlikowske holds a BA and an MA in criminal justice from the University of South Florida in Tampa and then attended the Executive Institute at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Academy before joining the US Army.
Kerlikowske was drafted into the Army in 1970, and was stationed in Washington, DC, where, according to Wikipedia, part of his responsibility was saluting then-President Richard Nixon as he boarded the presidential helicopter.
He began his law enforcement career in 1972 as a police officer for the St. Petersburg Police in Florida. Later, he served as chief of police in Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie, FL. Both cities received the Attorney General’s Crime Prevention Award.
He later served as police commissioner for Buffalo, NY, for about a year and a half.
He served as a member of the United States Justice Department, where he oversaw community policing grants. His work in Washington, DC, earned praise from then-Attorney General Janet Reno and then-First Lady Hillary Clinton.
Kerlikowske joined the Seattle Police Department in 2000, and Mayor Paul Schell chose him as Seattle’s new police chief in July 2001.
Kerlikowske oversaw the demonstrations marking the second anniversary of the controversial World Trade Organization (WTO) conference in Seattle, which had caused his predecessor to resign. Although the event was peaceful throughout the day, 140 were arrested after police issued orders to disperse in the evening. Some of those arrested were prominent labor leaders attempting to move the event to the Labor Temple and others were people who were caught in the arrest zone while leaving work. Some charges were later dismissed.
The Seattle Police Department, under Kerlikowski, was later criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union for the handling of protests against the Iraq War and previous demonstrations in a 2003 letter to the mayor and police chief.
Kerlikowske faced criticism over the department’s slow response to the 2001 Seattle Mardi Gras Riots that left one man dead and 70 people injured. During the incident, he ordered the police at the scene not to intervene, instead maintaining a perimeter around the violence. The city of Seattle later acknowledged police strategy presented a public safety threat, and settled with the murder victim’s family for just under $2,000,000.
The next month, the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild voted no confidence in the chief, citing both the Mardi Gras riot and his public reprimand of an officer for being rude to a group of alleged jaywalkers.
In 2003, a ballot measure passed in Seattle that directs the police department to consider marijuana possession (for adult personal use) the city’s lowest law enforcement priority. Kerlikowske opposed the ballot initiative, but said such arrests were already a low priority.
When in 2003, for the first time in 15 years Seattle did not have any shooting deaths involving officers, Kerlikowske said Tasers and other less-lethal tools were partly responsible.
In September 2004, the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) president asked to be Tased to better understand the complaints his organization had received. Kerlikowske joined him in a public demonstration in which they were both shocked at the same time.
In March 2007, the NAACP and the Minority Executive Directors Coalition called for his resignation. Seattle had just settled a lawsuit filed by a suspect who alleged that the police had used excessive force in a 2005 arrest. The department’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) recommended discipline for the three officers involved but action was not taken. The call for his resignation was also due to criticism of his alleged intervention in the internal investigation of two officers accused of violating the civil rights of a drug dealer during an arrest in January. The suspect claimed the officers roughed him up which was supported by video footage of the incident. The OPA Review Board accused him of taking extraordinary measures to protect the officers. The complaint was referred to the FBI, US Attorney’s district office, and Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice for further investigation. None of these investigations turned up any evidence of corruption.
On May 13, 2009, Kerlikowske signaled that the Obama Administration would no longer use the term “War on Drugs,” as it is counter-productive and it would demonstrate a favoring of treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce drug use.
In a May 22, 2009 interview on KUOW radio, he said any drug “legalization” would be “waving the white flag” and that “legalization is off the charts when it comes to discussion, from my viewpoint” and that “legalization vocabulary doesn’t exist for me and it was made clear that it doesn’t exist in President Obama’s vocabulary.” Specifically about marijuana, he said, “It’s a dangerous drug.”
In the Seattle area, Kerlikowske is perhaps best known as the anti-gun police chief whose own 9mm Glock pistol was stolen from his car while it was parked on a downtown Seattle street in December 2004, according to Dave Workman’s Seattle Examiner column. Rather than carry the pistol while on a post-Christmas Day shopping excursion with his wife, he left the gun unattended in the department vehicle.
In the wake of recent widespread reports of fatal overdoses of prescription drugs, the Obama administration’s has called attention to prescription drug abuse, and suggested that once again, congressional support in the form of increased funding, would help government solve the problem.
Kerlikowske later announced plans to fight the growing abuse of prescription drugs in a Buffalo visit last month, after the Buffalo News, had published a series, “Rx for Danger,” which chronicled the spreading abuse of prescription painkillers.
Accidental drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in 17 states, Kerlikowski told the News. All of which suggests yet another policy shift for Kerlikowski and the Obama administration.
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