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Former Seattle chief to head Customs and Border Protection

Former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske was confirmed Thursday as the first commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.
Former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske was confirmed Thursday as the first commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, who lost his Glock pistol to a car prowler on a downtown Seattle street several years ago, was confirmed today by the Senate to be the first permanent commissioner for the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

Kerlikowske’s 9mm Glock pistol has never been recovered to Examiner’s knowledge. A reward was offered by the Bellevue-based Citizen’s Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thief. Over the years, CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb chided Kerlikowske over the gun theft, including the time the former chief was honored for his gun control efforts by Washington CeaseFire.

For the past few years, Kerlikowske has served as President Barack Obama’s drug czar. He was also a deputy director at the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Prior to serving as Seattle’s police chief, he was police commissioner in Buffalo, N.Y. and he served at the St. Petersburg, Fla., police department.

With Kerlikowske at the helm at Customs and Border Protection, maybe there might be some new interest in revealing all the details about the December 2010 murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry that led to the exposure of the Operation Fast and Furious scandal.

Sometimes referred to by Washington gun rights activists as “the empty holster” because of his gun loss, Kerlikowske had lobbied for tougher gun laws in Olympia while he was Seattle chief. That came to a halt after his pistol was stolen from his department-owned car, which he parked on Dec. 26, 2004 when he went shopping with his wife.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued a congratulatory statement following Kerlikowske’s confirmation.

“As one of the Department of Homeland Security’s largest operational divisions, Customs and Border Protection plays an essential role in the Department’s mission to keep Americans safe by protecting our borders while promoting international trade,” Carper said. “I believe that the President made an excellent choice in selecting Mr. Kerlikowske to lead this important agency. His breadth of experience in law enforcement and drug policy prepare him well to take on this role, and our nation will benefit immensely from his leadership. I commend my colleagues for joining me in supporting his nomination and I look forward to working with him in this new position.”

This column recently discussed Kerlikowske’s lost gun episode as part of a broader look at law enforcement guns that have gone missing.

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