served as the highest ranking law enforcement officer in four of our cities in the United States of America. He’s been Seattle’s chief now for nearly nine years. I know when I called him the first time it was, like, he wasn’t sure whether to take the call or not. (Laughter.)
But he is also president of the Major City Chiefs Association — a group — and many are represented here today — a group made up of 56 of the largest law enforcement agencies in the United States. And he’s served as a Deputy Director of the COPS program at the United States Department of Justice — one of the — in my view — I’m mildly prejudiced, having written the legislation — but in my view one of the most effective crime prevention programs we’ve ever established in the nation’s history.
And the chief has been on the front lines in the battle against drugs as well. He’s been recognized as one of the most innovative minds in law enforcement and he’s been called a “fierce defender of community policing principles.” What I find most appealing about the Chief is that he says we can’t operate in “silos” — with barriers thrown up between the criminal justice system, the prevention and treatment community, and the recovery components of this problem. They can’t be separated. He knows we need a comprehensive answer.
And that’s exactly what the vision we had in mind when we first — many of you in this room who helped — when we first created that office. That was the idea from the outset.
We know we needed tough laws, and we have tough laws. But that wasn’t enough. We needed a balanced approach in combating drugs — one that included prevention, treatment and enforcement.
And that’s why when I wrote what used to be called the Biden Crime Bill back in the ’90s — and quite frankly, many of you in this room literally sat and wrote that bill with me; it had my name on it, but you all wrote it — when we wrote that back in 1994, I felt so strongly about the need to create specialized Drug Courts — so we could have an alternative to incarceration and the traditional probation that included treatment and a way forward.
That’s why I fought so hard for the Drug Free Communities Support Program, so we could bring together parents, teachers, business leaders, police, medical profession to prevent drug abuse and addiction in local communities.
And that’s why I, along with many of you, worked so hard for the COPS program — because quite frankly more cops on the street is one of the best ways to keep drugs off the street.
The challenges facing the Chief are going to be daunting. Nowhere is that more true than in the southwest border today. All you have to do is pick up your paper anywhere in the nation, national and local — since the beginning of last year there have been nearly 7,000 drug-related murders in Mexico. If we had said that years ago we would have