With Tuesday's election now behind us, and the incoming Obama administration turning its attention to filling all those cabinet and White House posts, speculation is already starting about who will replace outgoing drug czar John Walters as head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Actually, the speculation began even before the election was over.
It was an interesting, if not particularly inspiring, call. As police chief in Los Angeles, Bratton has not been a serious foe of medical marijuana, but in his earlier incarnation as New York City police commissioner in the mid-1990s, his NYPD arrested tens of thousands of people a year for petty marijuana offenses, subjecting them to an average 24-hour stay in the city's stinking jails before arraignment. Bratton is also an advocate of the "broken windows" model of policing, which in the mutated form it took in New York under his and Rudy Giuliani's leadership insists that the way to control serious crime is to control not-so-serious crime -- despite rumors of privately-held reformist views on Bratton's part, New York City's marijuana arrest rate increased by a whopping factor of ten, and have yet to decrease again.
But surveying Bratton's career for how he might behave as drug czar is already an exercise in futility. The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that Bratton has said he is not heading for Washington to replace Walters. "That is not something I am seeking, it's not something I have been approached about," Bratton said. "No reason to leave Los Angeles -- they pay me very well."
So now, it's back to the drawing board for drug czar speculators. Drug War Chronicle will be touching base with various people in the next week to try to get a better handle on who may end up running federal drug policy, or whether we even need a drug czar. Stay tuned.