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Buffalo Police Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske is among six people under consideration for a top job with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Washington, D.C., sources said Friday.

Kerlikowske declined to comment in detail.

"It's nice to be considered for another position, but it's really just speculation," is all he would say.

But sources said the job is INS deputy director and would involve an appointment by INS Commissioner Doris Meissner.

In recent weeks, rumors have been swirling around the 940-member Police Department that the commissioner already accepted the position, but those rumors are false, he said.

"The INS does have a search under way for a number of positions, and until it's concluded, there will be no announcement," Eric Andrus, an INS spokesman, said Friday afternoon.

Kerlikowske, 47, initially was one of eight candidates under consideration, but that list has been shortened to six, sources familiar with the review said.

This is not the first time he has been mentioned as a potential candidate for a high-ranking federal job.

Shortly after Mayor Masiello appointed him commissioner in 1994, Kerlikowske was contacted by Clinton administration officials when they were seeking a community policing czar.

Kerlikowske, at that time, said he was not interested and that he remained committed to Buffalo for at least four years.

Active in police organizations on a national level, the commissioner was re-elected in June for a second term as president of the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington-based group of police executives. The group conducts research on law-enforcement issues.

In maintaining a high profile nationally, he has been able to bring the latest practices in modern law enforcement to the department, according to his supporters.

Among his accomplishments are the implementation of community policing; mobile computers, which are scheduled for installation in patrol cars starting in January; and expediting construction of new police district buildings.

"Technologically, we are further advanced than we were four years ago and our training programs for officers are more available," a police official said of the commissioner's tenure.

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