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October 21, 1999: Honoring Our Commitment to Law Enforcement

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"We think there ought to be more police and fewer guns on the street. I do not think a strategy of fewer police and more guns is what the American people want."

President Bill Clinton
Thursday, October 21, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton commemorated the fifth anniversary of the Administration's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program by honoring this year's recipients of the "Top Cop" awards The awards are given annually by the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) to law enforcement officers for outstanding service to their communities. The President urged Congress to provide full funding for the COPS program, and to pass legislation that would extend the program for five more years.

Recognizing Outstanding Law Enforcement Officers. The Top Cop awards given by NAPO pay tribute to law enforcement officers from across the country for their exceptional service. “Top Cops” are nominated by their fellow officers and are selected from hundreds of nominations. This year, 32 officers from 9 states and the District of Columbia – including 5 officers who are funded through the COPS program – will receive the distinguished award.

Highlighting the Success of Community Policing. Under the Clinton-Gore Administration, America has experienced the longest continuous drop in crime on record. This week, the FBI announced that serious crime fell in 1998 for the seventh year in a row, and that the murder rate has dropped to its lowest point in 31 years. The President credited community policing as a key part of the Administration's crime-fighting strategy, and urged Republicans not to undermine the future of the COPS program.

Fighting for Resources to Keep Our Streets Safe. The President called on Congress to fully fund his $1.27 billion COPS initiative for FY 2000, which would:

  • help put an additional 30,000-50,000 officers on the street;
  • provide law enforcement with the latest crime-fighting technologies;
  • help fund new community prosecutors; and
  • target funds to engage the entire community in preventing crime.

The Republican spending bill for FY 2000, which the President pledged to veto, slashes the COPS program by nearly $1 billion, and:

  • provides for 3,000 fewer police officers on our streets in the next year alone, compared to the President's budget;
  • fails to meet law enforcement technology needs; and
  • provides no funding for new community prosecutors or community crime prevention.

Extending the COPS Program. The COPS program, which has funded over 100,000 community police officers to-date, expires next year by statute. President Clinton urged Congress to pass legislation being introduced by Senator Joseph Biden which would extend the COPS program through the year 2005.

A Record of Supporting Law Enforcement. In addition to the COPS program, the Clinton-Gore Administration has worked to dramatically expand resources for state and local law enforcement. Over the past seven years, the Administration has increased assistance for state and local crime fighting and prevention efforts by over 500 percent. This funding has been used to strengthen police forces; buy new equipment, patrol cars, computers and crime-fighting technologies; build new prisons; and deploy new strategies to reduce crime.

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