ATLANTIC CITY — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ right-hand man on drug-crime prevention and law enforcement will be a keynote speaker this year at an annual drug prevention and training symposium to talk about the government’s current approach to drug crimes in the United States.

U.S. Associate Deputy Attorney General Steven H. Cook will give the keynote address Monday at Harrah’s Atlantic City at the 21st Century Drug and Violence Prevention Training Conference and Marijuana Symposium.

The event, hosted by Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD), runs Sunday through Tuesday and will draw a crowd of police officers and other law-enforcement experts, educators and government and civic leaders.

Cook was appointed in March 2017 to serve as the deputy attorney general’s point person on the Task Force for Crime Reduction and Public Safety, which was created at the direction of President Donald Trump to develop a nationwide strategy to reduce crime.

Cook now serves as the director of law enforcement affairs for the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Starting out as a law-enforcement officer and throughout his career, he has had a tremendous impact on law-enforcement issues that affect all of us,” Nick DeMauro, LEAD executive director and CEO, said in a statement.

Cook will join the event’s 14 other speakers who are experts in topics related to drug crimes and prevention, marijuana legalization, school safety, the heroin and opioid epidemic and others.

Attendees can participate in drug- and violence-prevention certification workshops Sunday, as well as programs on information and skills for law enforcement to support community prevention programs.

Bernard James, professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University School of Law will talk Monday afternoon about school safety and issues facing law enforcement and educators, including search and seizure, confronting illegal activities and understanding the role of educators and law enforcement in those circumstances.

The Marijuana Symposium on Tuesday will be led by John Carnevale, a drug policy expert who has served three U.S. administrations and four “drug czars.”

“With many states, including New Jersey, faced with potentially legalizing marijuana, more than ever, methods need to be developed to address this problem and (Carnevale) brings extensive knowledge to this complicated issue,” DeMauro said.

Other event speakers include Bill Beacham, executive director of the national Center for Drug-Free Communities; retired Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent and Monmouth University professor Douglas S. Collier; and Chief Robert Kugler, a 33-year veteran of the Saddle Brook Police Department.

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Contact: 609-272-7022 Twitter @ACPressNLeonard

Previously interned and reported for, The Asbury Park Press, The Boston Globe

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