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President Clinton Announces Funding of New Community Police Officers

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 29, 1998


The Rose Garden

11:17 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Commissioner andcongratulations on your new position as the Superintendent of theChicago Police. Mayor White, thank you, as always, for yourastounding leadership. Madam Attorney General, thank you forfaithfully and vigorously pursuing the partnership with lawenforcement we did talk about so long ago now. Mr. Vice President,thank you for all you have done to make this a safer country. AndI'd like to thank all the mayors, the police officers who are here;and say a special word of welcome to Congressman Cummings for hispresence and for his support.

Let me say just before I came out here I received wordthat a few moments ago Senator Barry Goldwater passed away at the ageof 89. He was truly an American original, I never knew anybody quitelike him. As all of you know, we were of different parties and oftendifferent philosophies. But in the last several years he wasuncommonly kind to me and to Hillary. And I had occasions to visitwith him and I always came away, every time I met him -- from thefirst time back when I was a senior in college, until the last timejust a couple of years ago -- with the impression that he was a greatpatriot and a truly fine human being. So our prayers will be withhis wife and his family today. And our gratitude for his life ofservice to our country is very, very strong.

As you have heard, our country has made a lot ofprogress in the fight against crime in the last few years. We'vemade a lot of progress on a lot of areas. We just announced that wewould have a budget surplus this year for the first time since 1969.We have the lowest unemployment rate since 1970; the lowest inflationrate in over 30 years; the lowest welfare rolls in 27 years; and, ofcourse, the lowest crime rates in a quarter century.

All of these things are a great tribute to the Americanpeople in their communities, working at their lives. When I tookoffice I determined to make the federal government a genuine partnerin building a better future for the American people everywhere. Andit seemed to me that we could never do that unless we had a sensiblestrategy to make people feel safer in their streets. It is verydifficult to feel like you're living in a free country as a freecitizen if you don't feel safe walking the streets, if you don'tthink your children are safe when they're walking the streets or inthe park or going to school, if you don't even feel safe in your ownhome.

So we have worked on the strategy that has been outlinedby the previous speakers. I'd like to emphasize especially the workthat was done to give law enforcement officers the tools to do thejob; the community policing program to put 100,000 more police on thestreet; and the effort to enlist ordinary citizens in the work ofhelping police to prevent crime and to solve crimes and to give themthe tools to do the job.

Now, this all shows that whether it's the crime, thebudget deficit, welfare reform, home ownership, anything -- anychallenges this country faces, we can only solve it if we worktogether. But, when we do work together, we invariably make progress-- sometimes astonishing progress. The principal behind communitypolicing in a way is the principal behind everything we tried to dodomestically. It embodies the concept of working together -- to getmore police out of the station houses, out from behind the desks,onto the streets, working with people in the ways that SuperintendentHillard just outlined.

We pledged to put 100,000 on the street in the campaignof '92 and then in 1993 in the budget. Finally, in the Crime Bill in'94, we succeeded in getting that commitment enacted into law. Weknew it would be a long-term effort, and we said we would try toachieve it in six years. Now, we have reached a milestone -- in onlyfour years, we have now funded 75,000 of that 100,000 communitypolice. We're ahead of schedule on the thing that is doing the mostto make America a safer place, thanks to those of you in lawenforcement. (Applause.)

I might also say thanks to the Attorney General and toyou, Chief. We're not only ahead of schedule, we're also underbudget. So if you guys will keep us under budget, we may go over100,000 police.

But as the Attorney General has said, and as all of youknow, there are still some neighborhoods in America, and too many ofthem, where crime hasn't receded far enough or fast enough.Congressman Cummings told me this morning that he lives in one ofthose neighborhoods, and we need to do more. We have to focus ourresources on high-crime, high-need neighborhoods to bring thebenefits of community policing to every community. And in thedifficult areas, that means we have to reach a critical mass ofpolice officers in community policing before it can make thenecessary difference.

So I am pleased to say today that the Department ofJustice will fully fund over 700 new community police officers whowill be on the beat specifically in troubled areas -- 150 in Chicagofighting drug-related crime; 100 in Baltimore to fight drugs andviolent crimes; 170 in Miami to take back the streets inneighborhoods along the Miami River. Hartford will put theirofficers to work to fight a new surge of violent gang activity.

Now, as we extend the reach of community policing in ourcities, we in Washington have a responsibility to continue to advancethis strategy that has brought success. We have more to do toprotect our children, more to do to fight juvenile crime, more to doto keep our kids and our schools free and safe from guns and fromdrugs. The same community policing techniques that are helping tomake our streets safe again are the best way to help keep our schoolssafe. In March, we began to make funds available to achieve thisobjective, and we should do more.

We have to do more and more to push back the frontiersof violence. The recent wave of shootings in our schools reminds usagain that more police, more prosecutors, tougher laws, more vigilantneighborhoods and more positive opportunities for our kids to stayout of trouble in the first place -- all of those things have to bedone by those of us in authority.

But the parents, the teachers, the community leaders,all of them have to do more, too, to teach our children right fromwrong; to teach them to turn away from violence, to identify troubledchildren before they do something irrevocably destructive. We haveto do more to show our children by the power of example and the powerof outreach that we care about each and every one of them.

Finally, let me say that I want to say what has beensaid by others -- what the Attorney General said. You're doing agood job, and the rest of us are grateful. We can say, well, crimehas dropped 27 percent, or it's the lowest in 25 years. Those arestatistical abstractions. There are children who are playing freetoday because of what you have done. There are people who are alivetoday because of what you have done. There are businessesfunctioning in neighborhoods today that would be closed if it hadn'tbeen for what you have done. You have given our people a deeperfreedom.

And as we stand on the brink of a new century, we shouldall be very, very grateful. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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