U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske is interviewed following the opening plenary at the NADCP Annual Training Conference in Anaheim, Calif. on Thursday, June 11, 2009. (Phil McCarten/AP Images for The National Association of Drug Court Professionals)

Obama Drug Czar Contender to be Top Cop

Mon, 04-18-2011

President Barack Obama‘s drug czar is among the contenders to become the first Chicago police superintendent in Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel‘s administration, the Chicago News Cooperative has learned.


Gil Kerlikowske, whose formal title is director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, met last week with Emanuel in Chicago and was in town again over the weekend for an interview with the police board, sources told the CNC.

Before joining the Obama administration, Kerlikowske was police chief in Seattle for nine years and also worked as police commissioner of Buffalo, NY. Emanuel got to know Kerlikowske well when Emanuel was White House chief of staff and Kerlikowske became drug czar in early 2009, shortly after Obama took office.

Another candidate to become Chicago’s top cop after Emanuel is sworn in as mayor next month is Garry McCarthy, the director of the Newark, N.J., police. Before taking that post in 2006, McCarthy was deputy commissioner of operations for the New York Police Department.

Internal options under consideration for the top spot include Gene Williams, Al Wysinger and Deb Kirby, the sources said.

The police board announced last week that it had received more than 40 applications for the job and would winnow the field to three finalists for Emanuel to choose from before his inauguration on May 16.

The board’s executive director, Max Caproni, declined comment Monday. He referred questions to board president Demetrius Carney, who did not return calls seeking comment.

A spokesman for Kerlikowske also declined comment.

Retiring Mayor Richard M. Daley‘s last superintendent, Jody Weis, recently stepped down after Emanuel made clear that he would usher in a change in leadership in the force. Terry Hillard, a former top Chicago cop, is the interim leader of the department.

Emanuel had sought to recruit Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who has local roots, but Ramsey decided to stay in his current post.