|For Immediate Release||April 23, 1999|
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Before I leave to go tothe NATO Summit this morning, I'd like to say just a few more wordsabout the tragedy in Littleton and the steps we're taking to make allour schools safer.
The images from Colorado have become painfully familiar-- the terrified children, the racing ambulances, the grievingfamilies. We saw them last year, in Pearl, West Paducah, Jonesboro,Springfield. We were reminded again this week that none of ourcommunities is immune to senseless violence.
Still, it is important to remember, and to remind ourchildren, that the vast majority of our schools are safe. Nearlyeverywhere in America a child still is safer in school than anywhereelse in the community.
But this week's tragedy reminds us again that one act ofviolence is one too many. We must do more to keep guns out of thehands of children; to help our young people express their anger andalienation with words, not weapons; to prevent violence fromshattering the peace of our schoolyards.
I've spoken to our Attorney General Reno, who was at thescene yesterday to assist law enforcement in their investigation, andto offer comfort to the students and the families. I also talkedwith Dr. DeStefano on the school board last evening for a few minutesto share some thoughts with them and to express my appreciation tothem for their efforts.
The Justice Department today will make $1.5 million fromour crime victims trust fund available to help the communities assistthe victims in their long journey toward recovery. And we will domore.
Last October, at our White House Conference on SchoolSafety, I launched a new initiative to bring more of the samecommunity policing that is doing so much to reduce crime on ourstreets to our schools. Today I'm pleased to announce the first ofthe grants funding these community police will be awarded to 336schools and communities to help hire more than 600 police officers.Like their counterparts on the streets, these school officers willwork closely with the citizens they serve -- with students, teachersand parents -- to improve campus security, to counsel troubled youth,to mediate conflicts before they escalate into violence.
I want to thank Senator Chuck Robb for his strongleadership on this issue. By the end of the year we hope to have2,000 new officers in our schools and I encourage all communities toapply for these grants.
I also want to take this opportunity to remindcommunities that they have until June 1st to apply for the FederalSafe Schools-Healthy Students funds, to help them put in placecomprehensive violence prevention programs. Those of you who werewith me yesterday in Alexandria at T.C. Williams High School know howimportant the students there believe such a program is. These fundscan be used for everything from establishing conflict resolutiongroups to hiring more mental health counselors, to establishing newmentoring programs, to installing metal detectors and other securityequipment.
By taking actions to prevent future acts of violence inour schools we can best honor the memories of those who lost theirlives.
Thank you very much.
Q Mr. President, you didn't mention gun control. Areyou going to do more on gun control?
Q To be clear, sir, do all hostilities in Kosovo haveto end before there can be consideration of ground troops, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I know you understand I'vegot to run over there and meet all the people that are coming. Wewill have more legislative initiatives to announce in the days ahead.As I said a couple of days ago, we will have some legislativeresponses and efforts we have been working on for some time,actually.
On the other, I think that our conditions are clear.Thank you very much.
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Remarks Before Departing for NATO Summit