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Seattle Police Chief to Be US Drug Czar

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says the chief of police of the city of Seattle, Washington is President Barack Obama's pick to be the nation's drug czar.

Announcing the choice Wednesday in Washington D.C., Biden said Gil Kerlikowske has been recognized as "one of the most innovative minds" in law enforcement.

He praised the chief for his 36 years of experience in the field and his belief that the nation needs a "comprehensive answer" to the drug problem.

In a White House release, Mr. Obama said it has never been more important to have a national drug control strategy guided by what he described as "sound principles of public safety and public health." The president noted the escalating violence along the border with Mexico and problems with drug addiction in the United States.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kerlikowske would head the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which leads U.S. anti-drug efforts.

The selection of Kerlikowske comes despite revelations that his stepson had been arrested on drug-related charges.

The drug czar post was elevated to Cabinet level under former President George W. Bush, but the Obama administration plans to downgrade the position.

As a senator, Biden played a key role in creating the drug control office in the 1980s.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.