WASHINGTON — An organization of federal law enforcement officers is endorsing President Joe Biden's nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents over 26,000 law enforcement professionals across dozens of agencies including ATF, announced their endorsement of former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach, whom Biden named as his nominee last month, in a letter to senators obtained by NBC News.
Larry Cosme, the group's president, wrote in the letter that Dettelbach has a "proven history of working with with law enforcement agencies, corrections officials, advocates, stakeholders, and elected officials across the political spectrum.”
His "dedication towards the advancement of public safety initiatives should go a long way towards restoring the public trust," Cosme added.
The agency has been without a Senate-confirmed director since 2015. The White House withdrew Biden's first nominee, David Chipman, in September after unanimous opposition from Republicans in the Senate and reluctance among some moderate Democrats, as well as Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats.
Chipman was an ATF official before he joined a group that advocates for stricter gun laws founded by Gabby Giffords, a former Arizona congresswoman who was shot at a constituent event. Guns groups like the National Rifle Association had lined up in opposition to his nomination.
Dettelbach oversaw more than 170 Justice Department employees as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio during the Obama administration. He also worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland and served on the Senate Judiciary Committee as a detailee from the DOJ for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Cosme wrote in the letter that a review of Dettelbach's work history "reveals a remarkable career dedicated toward advancement of a shared American value: equal justice under the law."
A senior Biden administration official said last month they were expecting a smoother confirmation process for Dettelbach than Chipman faced.
“He should be a noncontroversial candidate because he has a long record of working in law enforcement and for the public safety of the people of Ohio and the American people,” the official said. “We will work hard to make sure that Congress confirms him swiftly.”
Dettelbach has secured endorsements from a group of prosecutors in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing case, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the Major County Sheriffs of America, and a slew of former DOJ officials.
As Politico reported this week, the agency has only seen one person confirmed as its director since 2006, when the position began requiring Senate approval. King, along with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, are expected to speak or meet with Dettelbach in the coming weeks, according to Politico.