On a tragic night a little over two and a half years ago, when Seattle’s Jewish community was in shock following the murder of one woman and the wounding of five others, we also learned that we had a friend, and an important one at that. Gil Kerlikowske, Seattle’s police chief, spent a good part of the night at the Harborview Trauma Center on July 28, 2006, and he’s been particularly responsive to the needs of the Jewish Federation and the Jewish community at large since.
Chief Kerlikowske will soon depart Seattle for the “other” Washington, pending Senate confirmation, to join the nascent Obama administration as head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. His departure will leave a hole that we can only hope will be filled with as conscientious a leader in law enforcement. It’s not every police chief who visits and surveys the scene of a crime, even one as horrendous as what happened at the Federation; it is certainly not every police chief who keeps lines of communication open with members and leaders of the affected community more than two years after the fact; it’s most definitely not every police chief who calls on survivors, on his own time and with his wife, for social and well-being visits, as Kerlikowske did.
So as he packs his belongings, wraps up his business here, and prepares for his confirmation and new life in Washington, D.C., we would simply like to give a sendoff to Gil Kerlikowske with these words: Thanks, Chief. We appreciate all you’ve done.