THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN TELECONFERENCE CALL WITH MAYORS
The Oval Office
1:54 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello. Mayor Daley, Mayor White, Mayor Rice, Mayor Minor, welcome to the telephone conversation. I'm here with the Attorney General and with our Director of Drug Policy Lee Brown. And we're glad to visit with you.
Today I'm happy to announce that the four cities you represent and 30 others and towns across our country will receive the second round of grants to put more police on the street and to expand community policing.
The Justice Department has now received applications from 3,000 communities across the country and awarded grants in more that 100 cities and towns. It's obvious that every community in our country is coming to the same conclusion -- that more police officers on the street, properly trained and properly placed, will reduce the crime rate. And these grants today are another down payment on our pledge to put 100,000 new officers on the streets.
I've asked Congress, as I think all of you know, to send me a comprehensive crime bill as soon as possible that does that -- that puts 100,000 police officers on the street; bans assault weapons; expands boot camps, prisons and drug courts, and says to violent offenders, three strikes and you're out.
I've also provided funding for that crime bill in this budget through the five-year, $22-billion violent crime reduction trust fund, that takes the money we're going to save from reducing the federal bureaucracy by $250,000 over five years and pays for the police officers.
Earlier today, Lee Brown and I announced our new drug control strategy, which expands drug treatment programs as well as provides more police officers on the street. These two items in our budget got bigger increases than almost anything else. Community policing went up $1.7 billion. The drug budget went up $1 billion, even though we were cutting half the government departments and 60 percent of the line items in the budget.
So I am very encouraged that at least we're beginning to make our contribution to this effort. I want to thank all of you for what you're doing to fight crime in your communities. I want to give you a chance to be heard today. And as I said, Lee Brown and Janet Reno and I are here; we want to support you and we want to do everything we can to succeed.
MAYOR DALEY: Mr. President, on behalf of the people of the city of Chicago, we want to thank you for your strong leadership in taking back our streets and protecting our children from gangs and drug dealers. As I have said as Mayor of Chicago, this is a Clinton
plan dealing with crime. And it's not only more police officers on the street, it also deals with treatment.
I wanted to thank Attorney General Reno and Lee Brown for active participation with local officials. I am here with Superintendent Rodriguez and Commander Watson and five community leaders dealing with community policing. And we appreciate your leadership and your commitment of the Clinton administration of reaching out not just to a mayor but to community people to get them involved in community policing and get them involved in treatment of young people dealing with drug problems.
And again, this is the leadership that you have provided, and we just thank you on behalf of the people of Chicago.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mayor.
MAYOR WHITE: Mr. President, as Mayor of the city of Cleveland, I want to thank you first of all for accepting our application and for supporting that application in making the announcement that you have made today. But I think even more important than just what is going on for the four cities that you are talking with today is the very firm, but yet very fair, but extremely pragmatic approaches you have taken to dealing with the problems of crime in this country. We cannot just be concerned about making the entire world secure when there are literally millions of Americans today who are living in fear and desperation.
I want you to know and the Attorney General and also Mr. Lee Brown to know that we in Cleveland are going to use this money wisely as a part of our expanding community policing program upon which the voters of the city of Cleveland agree to have a new community policing commander appointed.
But I also want you to know, Mr. President, in a larger context, that I and all of us as mayors, I believe, are pledged to do whatever it takes to support your crime bill. If it means going door to door in the Congress, if it means writing letters, whatever it takes, please know that we want to be your partners. And I can assure you that in Cleveland, you'll have a community policing program you can be proud of.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. We need your support for the crime bill. We need you up here going door to door. And we also need your support for the drug budget because the two things go together.
MAYOR WHITE: You'll have it.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Rice?
MAYOR RICE: Mr. President, I want to commend you on your active leadership. I think for the past 12 years the federal government has been missing in action and local government has had to fight crime by itself. So we welcome your leadership and we welcome this new federal involvement.
I would like to just briefly tell you how we are going to use these officers. Nineteen will be added to our community police teams, and they'll be spending a great deal of time in and around our schools to help keep our kids safe. And one will be added to our Team for Youth, working directly with police and social service agencies to steer at-risk youth away from violence.
I am joined today by our two police chiefs, Patrick Fitzsimons and Norman Stamper, and our chair of the public safety
committee, Margaret Pageler. We commend you for your comprehensive approach, and we definitely need tough law enforcement and stiffer sentences, but we also need to do more crime prevention.
I think the way you have put the crime bill together and this drug package says once again how you see a comprehensive approach in helping mayors in cities. I pledge to you that we'll give you all the support you need.
And I hope that all the members of Congress would talk to their mayors, because we're on the front lines, and we know how it really works. So we know the commitment to building jails has to be matched by a commitment to building jobs and hope. And we see that in your leadership, and I pledge to you my strong support in all of your endeavors.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
MAYOR MINOR: Thank you, Mr. President. I'd like to thank you from the city of San Bernadino for your strong leadership and your ability to realize that the front line are the cities of the United States. And I'd like to thank the Congress for their ability to realize this also.
I want to tell you that this city will support you in its crime bill in any way that you need our help. I'd like to tell you that this grant will put 17 officers on the street, nine working as patrol officers and eight into the problem-oriented policing. I'd also like to say that this city has been involved in communityoriented policing since 1983. It's a very intensive labor procedure in community-oriented policing, and it's proactive. And these 17 officers will help make it work.
Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mayor.
I'm going to give the telephone to the Attorney General now and let her say something, and then I'm going to give it to Lee Brown.
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: Mayors, I just want to thank you. You have set an example in each of your cities as to how community policing can work both to prevent crime and to focus on the dangerous offender and get them identified. And I think it just forms a very sound foundation for the passage of the crime bill. And we all appreciate your help and support in this effort.
Here's Dr. Brown.
DR. BROWN: I want to congratulate the mayors and their police chiefs for being recipients of these grants. I want to particularly thank the mayors for supporting your police chiefs in implementing community policing, because indeed you're involved in a quiet revolution in policing in America -- a better, smarter, and more cost-effective way of using police resources.
Best of luck to you in your endeavors. Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: One thing I want to say as I sign off is that to all of those hundreds of communities who applied for these grants who haven't been given funds, that's why we need to pass the crime bill. If we do that, then we'll be able to help cities all over America. We'll be able to meet the demand and we'll be able to lower the crime rate. And I appreciate the support that all of you
have given to that. And thank you for your example. We'll just keep working together.
Thank you, and good-bye.
Q Mr. President, have you had any up-date on the situation in Bosnia?
Q Mr. President, are the allies on board on a new Bosnia strategy?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we've made a lot of progress, but I don't have a final word from Brussels yet. They're meeting and they're talking. So far we've got a good report back, but they haven't finalized their discussions. I expect, oh, in a couple of hours later this afternoon I'll have more to say about it.
Q Does the Serbian agreement to pull back their guns from the hills of Sarajevo meet the conditions that you are hoping to lay out at the end of this meeting?
THE PRESIDENT: I can't say, I want to wait until I get the final report from Brussels. I should be able to give you a clearer answer on that. It's a good thing that they have -- a good beginning, but it shows -- again, every time NATO shows a little resolve there, we get some results.
Q What's different about the proposals that you and the French have put forward then with previous threats? There have been lots of threats to launch air strikes.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let's wait and see what action is taken. Again, I'll try to give you some good comments before your deadlines this evening, but I think I should wait until the meeting is concluded.
Q Can you tell us, are you backing off in your support for the Bosnian Muslims at all?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, no. That's not what this is about at all.
Q Now that you've had a chance to reflect a little bit on what the CBO said about your health care numbers, do you have any other comments --
THE PRESIDENT: No, I feel even better about it. I mean, the CBO said that we could have guaranteed private health insurance for all Americans; that it would reduce the government deficit and reduce government spending over the long run; that it wouldn't cost jobs for the American economy. I mean, I think the big-picture message is absolutely right.
I think in terms of the differences, I'm studying now the differences in their calculations and ours in the next five or six years, and, basically, they agree with us about how much it will cost. They think there will be more savings on the business side and fewer savings for the taxpayers in the short run. That's really the only difference as nearly as I can see.
But those are all things that we can work out. Those are relatively minor budgetary considerations and other things that we can work through to get our numbers in harmony with theirs. So I'm not at all concerned.
And I don't have anything else to say to what I said yesterday. I just think that to say that a private insurance payment from one private party to another should be on the government budget -- I just don't agree with that. I mean, otherwise every state in the country would have to put workers compensation payments on their
budget, and every state would have to put their mandatory drivers liability insurance on their budget. I just don't agree with -- I mean, I understand the argument, but again, I think that's something we can fix with the drafting of the bill. So I'm not concerned about it.
Q You're not worried about the short-term -- impact?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, but when I had a chance to study it further, I felt even better about their analysis because if you look at their analysis, they basically agree with us about how much the program will cost and how it will impact. They think in the short run more savings will flow to private sector -- to businesses and purchases, direct purchases of health care -- and less savings to the government. And over a five-year period, Senator Moynihan at the beginning of the day said the government will spend $7.5 trillion or something in the next five years. This $70 billion, it's a big number, but spread out over five years we can easily work through it. I think we can reconcile that. I'm not worried about it.
Q Have you spoken to President Yeltsin on the Bosnia situation, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Not yet. We're trying to set up telephone calls sometime today, and I think we'll talk today.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END2:09 P.M. EST