[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[February 8, 1995]
[Pages 171-173]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks Announcing Community Policing Grants
February 8, 1995

    Thank you so much, Sheriff Kelly. He spoke so well I hardly want to 
say anything. [Laughter] Chief Viverette, thank you very much for your 
work and for coming here and for what you said. I thank Attorney General 
Reno and Lee Brown for their outstanding work for our country. I'm very 
proud that they're a part of our administration. And I thank Chief Brann 
and John Schmidt for the work they have done on this police program, and 
of course, the Vice President for what he said and for what he does and 
for clarifying the nature of public spending under the LEAA program. If 
they bought me an airplane I'd still be Governor. [Laughter] I want to 
thank the Members of Congress who are here for what they did on the 
crime bill last year. And I want to thank many who are not here, but I 
would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Senator Biden, without whom we 
might never have had this crime bill. I thank him especially in his 
    This is security week at the White House, I think you could say. We 
talked about immigration yesterday and the need to protect our borders 
from illegal immigration. Today we're releasing our drug control 
strategy and talking about police officers. I'd like to put it briefly 
in the context of what I have been trying to achieve here.
    I ran for this office with a vision that at the end of this century 
we need to be preserving the American dream for all of our people and 
making sure that as we move into the next century we're still the 
strongest country in the world. I think our strategy should be what I 
have called the New Covenant, creating more opportunity but insisting on 
more responsibility and strengthening our communities at the grassroots 
    The role of government and specifically the role of the Federal 
Government at this time, it seems to me, is to do three things: to 
expand opportunity while shrinking bureaucracy, to empower Americans to 
make the most of their own lives, and to enhance our security at home 
and abroad.
    In ways that are obvious, the crime bill we passed and the drug 
strategy we pursue furthers all of those objectives. We are working hard 
to help communities to arm themselves to fight crime and violence. We 
are working hard to help people to defeat the scourge of drugs, both by 
enforcement as well as prevention and education and treatment. The crime 
bill makes the most of the resources that we have achieved by shrinking 
the Federal bureaucracy dramatically, to the point where, when we 
finish, it will be the smallest it's been since President Kennedy was in 
    Now, that leaves a lot up to you. It's up to all of you to hire and 
train the police officers. It's up to you to deploy them as you see fit. 
It's up to every citizen in every community in America to take 
responsibility to join the fight.
    I am all for more flexibility for States and localities. This crime 
bill, particularly as it was changed--and I want to thank some of the 
Republicans who are here for your contribution for that--we said, ``Hey, 
we ought to give the local communities more flexibility in deciding 
which prevention programs to fund; they know what works and what 
doesn't.'' That was the wisdom of the Congress, but there is a national 
interest in having 100,000 more police officers. There is a national 
interest in doing that because we know enough to know that when crime 
triples--violent crime--over 30 years, and the size of our police forces 
only increase by 10 percent over 30 years, and more police get off the 
street and into the cars, that becomes a national problem. And when all 
the police groups in the country come to us and say this is in the 
national interest, then we have to respond to that as well.
    Today we are here to award grants to over 7,000 new police officers 
in over 6,600 small cities, as the Attorney General said. It's an 
astonishing thing to me that more than half the communities in our 
country said, ``We want to be a part of this.'' If ever there was 
evidence that there is a national interest here, that is it.
    I wish that violence were a stranger to small towns. I wish that 
this really could have been just a problem for big cities where all the 
criminals in the country are congregated. But we all know that's not 
true. Indeed, we all know that most of our big cities have seen a 

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in the crime rate in the last couple of years, even though it's still at 
a horrendously high level. But many of our smaller communities are 
dealing with the aftermath. Indeed, I have many law enforcement officers 
tell me that they are now dealing with the consequences of being near 
bigger cities that have gotten more effective in combating crime, and 
some criminals are looking for greener pastures and more poorly armed 
police forces in smaller communities all across America.
    All of you know that I grew up in small towns in my home State. I 
can still remember when we never locked the car or the house and we 
never gave any thought to whether we were walking outside in the night 
or in the daytime. I wish that that were the case for all Americans 
today, but it isn't. And until it is again, we have to continue to work 
with you to restore those conditions and to fight the people who are 
keeping them from occurring.
    Police officers on the street are still the best protection we know 
for not only enforcement but for prevention, for all the ways that the 
chief spoke about and all the ways that all of you know. We also know 
that police officers on the street need the help of people in their 
communities. That's why in the State of the Union Address, I tried to 
emphasize the role of citizens.
    When I lived at home in Little Rock, we lived in an area that was 
very mixed in every way, racially, economically, and in terms of the 
citizens who lived there. And our crime rate went up and down and up and 
down over the decade I lived in the Governor's mansion. And the biggest 
difference was whether the citizens in our neighborhood were 
participating in the neighborhood crime watch and helping the police in 
our neighborhood to do their job.
    So we are well aware, we are well aware that we need the help of the 
citizens. But unless we follow through on our commitment to have 100,000 
police officers on the street, the United States Government will not be 
doing its job and exercising its responsibility to give you the 
opportunity to make the streets safer. We need 100,000 more badges.
    Just before I came out here, someone gave me a police badge from a 
neighboring State of Arkansas. I saved them, along with all the military 
coins I have from the units I've met. So now I have another one to put 
back on my desk. I ant 100,000 more of these on the street. That's in 
the national interest, and the Congress and the country should not back 
away from that. We should stay right with it until we have 100,000. 
That's what all these people lobbied for, and we should stay all the 
    I want to thank again all of those, but especially those in the 
Justice Department, who worked so hard to create a nonbureaucratic way 
for these police officers to come out. And that's been discussed. And I 
want to say again, I'm working hard to give more flexibility to State 
and local governments. I'm working hard to turn more authority back to 
States and local governments, even to the private sector where that's 
appropriate. I support the changes that were made in the last crime bill 
to give more flexibility in the area of prevention. But I will oppose 
any attempt to undermine the capacity of the crime bill to produce the 
100,000 police officers that we promised the American people, that you 
came up here and lobbied for, and that you worked so hard for. We must 
not do that.
    You know, one of the things that I've never read in all these 
biographies or accounts of my career is I actually once participated in 
the LEAA programs; I taught law enforcement officers. I taught 
constitutional law and criminal procedure. I was proud to do it, and it 
was a good program. But it didn't obscure the fact that we also have 
problems in the LEAA, as the Vice President outlined. And more 
importantly, it doesn't obscure the fact that we have a national 
interest and now a national solemn responsibility to take the money we 
save by reducing the Federal work force to go forward with 100,000 
    I also want to emphasize--I saw a lot of you nodding your head out 
there when Lee Brown was up here talking--our crime bill and our 
national drug control strategy are intimately related. With the help of 
the crime bill, this year's drug controls budget is the largest in the 
history of the Federal Government. Last year, for the first time in 25 
years, I submitted to Congress a budget--and Congress largely adopted 
it--which reduced both domestic and defense spending in an attempt to 
get control of this terrible deficit. For the first time in 25 years, 
the only things that went up were interest on the debt and the medical 
costs of the Government and the cost of living for Social Security. The 
aggregate spending, otherwise, went down. And I am proud of that. This 
year I have sub-

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mitted to Congress a budget with another $140 billion in spending cuts.
    Bult remember our objectives here. The Federal Government's job is 
to increase the ability of people to make the most of their own lives 
and to enhance security. So we're spending more on education and 
training and children and their future in our budget. We're also 
spending more on security, not only abroad but at home: more to fight 
the drug war, more to fight crime, more to do things that will make 
people more secure in their homes, in their schools, on their streets, 
in their workplaces. That's why this drug control strategy is important. 
And it's also important to note that it, too, is funded in the crime 
bill. A big part of the prevention section of the crime bill is an 
antidrug strategy, to take this country's commitment to fighting drugs 
to new heights.
    I thank Lee Brown for his leadership, and I am going to do 
everything I can to implement the 1995 drug control strategy that has 
four steps: We propose to work more closely with foreign governments to 
cut drugs off at the source. We propose to boost community efforts to 
educate young people about the dangers and penalties of drug use, 
something that is very important. We see fresh and disturbing efforts--
evidence that a lot of young people are no longer afraid that they will 
get sick, that they can die, that they can become addicted if they have 
casual drug use. We will work to break the cycle of crime and drugs by 
providing treatment to hardcore drug users who consume most of the drugs 
and cause much of the crime and health problems. And we will punish 
people who break the law more severely.
    This strategy gives your communities more resources to fight drugs 
as well, and more flexibility, as I said, in the use of those resources.
    I want to work with the new Congress to build on this crime bill, 
but we should not move backwards. We shouldn't undermine our ability to 
implement the drug control strategy. We shouldn't walk away from our 
commitment to provide 100,000 police officers. And we shouldn't let this 
become a partisan political issue. The crime bill passed with bipartisan 
support; it should be maintained with bipartisan support.
    I have no idea what political party the law enforcement officers 
standing up on this platform belong to, and I don't care. It's enough 
for me that they're all willing to put on a uniform and put their lives 
on the line to make the people of this country safer and give the kids 
of this country a better chance.
    We should listen to the experts in law enforcement and do what is 
right and keep this above politics. Above all, we must keep it above 
partisan politics. Let us listen to the evidence and do what is right 
for America. That should be our only test.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:40 a.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive 
Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to Gene Kelly, sheriff, 
Clark County, OH; Mary Ann Viverette, police chief, Gaithersburg, MD; 
Joseph Brann, Director, Community Oriented Policing Services program 
(COPS); and Associate Attorney General John Schmidt.