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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 12, 1994
                       REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

                          The Roosevelt Room

12:14 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Archer.

MAYOR ARCHER: Mr. President, how are you, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Peters.

MAYOR PETERS: Yes, how are you?

THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Darrah.

MAYOR DARRAH: Yes, President.

THE PRESIDENT: And Mayor Campbell.

MAYOR CAMPBELL: Hello, Mr. President, how are you?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm fine. I'm here with the Attorney General, who's also on another phone right here with me.


THE PRESIDENT: We want to congratulate all of you for working so hard to make your communities safer. I'm proud to announce today, as all of you know, that the four of you, along with the leaders of 142 other cities, counties, and towns all across this country, will get a downpayment on this administration's pledge to put another 100,000 police officers on the street.

I want to specifically note some members of Congress who are not on the phone call but whose districts have winners -- Congressman John Lewis, Congresswoman Barbara Rose Collins, Congressman John Conyers, and Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly, all of whom have worked closely with us on this initiative.

The Justice Department received applications from nearly 3,000 communities in every state and territory with these community policing grants and awarded them now to more than 200 cities and towns. It's obvious that communities all across the country are coming to the conclusion that if they have more police officers on the street who are properly trained and properly deployed, we can drive the crime rate down and make our people safer. That is at the heart of this administration's crime bill and has been at the heart of our strategy from the beginning.

When I ran for President, I pledged to do my best to break gridlock and pass the most sweeping, effective and comprehensive crime bill in history, and that that bill would include 100,000 new police officers.

Now, the bills have passed both the House and the Senate; they're going to conference; especially with the courageous passage of the assault weapons ban by the House last week. I think you can feel comfortable that all those officers are on the way. This program, as I said, is our downpayment. And we're very encouraged about it.

The American people have waited for this bill long enough. And I do want to take this opportunity in talking with you to say that it is imperative that we not let politics anymore delay for one day the passage of this crime bill. We have got to get the House and the Senate together and go through with it. And I want to urge you, even as we celebrate, your winning these awards for these new police officers to urge you to keep pressing the Congress to push forward.

Freedom from violence and freedom from fear are essential to maintaining not only personal freedom, but a sense of community in this country. And I think now we have the best chance at forging a bipartisan consensus for dynamic, aggressive and sustained efforts to bring the crime rate down that we have ever had. And that is in no small measure due to all of you.

So I thank you for what you've done. I congratulate on your award today, but I urge you to help us pass the crime bill so that we can continue to put the police officers out; do something about the weapons; do something about prevention; do something about punishment.

I want to ask now the Attorney General to say a few things and then I'd like to hear from each of you.

General Reno.

ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I look forward to working with you in this effort. I think it is so important that we get this community policing initiative passed, because those of you who have been fortunate enough to get this grant know how critical it is. And there are many, many cities still deserving who need the resources such as you received today.

I've been in your communities. I've seen how community policing on a small scale can work throughout America, in terms of involving citizens, determining problems and priorities in the neighborhood and bringing people together. I think it's an important initiative, and I look forward to working with you to implement it smoothly, and then to get the crime bill passed.

THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Archer.

MAYOR ARCHER: Mr. President and Attorney General Reno, I have at my side the Chief of Police, Isaiah McKennan (phonetic). And we want to thank you for your domestic policy. And Detroit thanks you, Mr. President and Attorney General Reno, for including Detroit. Our children thank you. Our senior citizens thank you. And we will use our new police officers wisely and consistent with our joint philosophy of neighborhood community policing.

And on the crime bill, you can count on me to continue to work with our Michigan delegations and others -- that I will write and urge to support it. And I want to thank you and congratulate you on your success in passing the assault weapons -- to ban them. Mr. President, you did a fantastic job.

And let me also say, Mr. President, please stay focused. We need your high energy dealing with our domestic and foreign policy issues. Don't be distracted by all the rest of this okeydoke. Stay focused.

And finally, let me just tell you that I'll bring greetings from you to President Carter, who I have the privilege of introducing in the next 15, 20 minutes, who is here in Detroit to make an address.

THE PRESIDENT: That's great. Well, you tell him, first of all, I enjoyed being with him last week. And I thank him and President Ford and President Reagan for the work they did on the assault weapons ban. And tell him that I'm going to be calling him in a day or two.

MAYOR ARCHER: I'll do that. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mayor. Mayor Peters.

MAYOR PETERS: Yes, Mr. President, thank you very much. Ms. Attorney General, good to hear from you again.


MAYOR PETERS: On behalf of all the citizens of the City of Hartford, we thank you very much for your efforts; especially you, Mr. President, for putting together a package at the federal level to help our cities. It's so very important to all of us.

I also have Chief Crowel (phonetic) here next to me, along with our City Manager, Sandra Key Borgess (phonetic), Bob Cross from Barbara Kennelly's office; and one of your favorite people, Ms. Attorney General, Chris Droney (phonetic). So I want to tell you that this effort on your behalf, and by including Hartford, we're very proud to be a part of it and we're going to do the job for you in our city. And I want to thank you very much for that.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mayor. Mayor Darrah.

MAYOR DARRAH: President Clinton, I see this allocation as your fulfilling your promises. Your top campaign goal was greater safety for Americans, more officers on the streets. When I heard you speak at the White House,you spoke for 10 minutes only on one subject, and that was the importance of passing the omnibus crime bill. Safety is clearly your top priority.

We in Stockton have worked hard, Mr. President, to decrease crime. We have added more officers. We've started the Safe Stockton program and begun community-oriented policing. What we need is more officers and leadership at the national level. You are providing that leadership, that vision.

Thank you, and thanks for the call.

THE PRESIDENT: Thanks, Mayor.

Mayor Campbell.

MAYOR CAMPBELL: Well, Mr. President, and Attorney General Reno, we are standing here with our own acting Chief of Police, Beverly Harvard (phonetic) and council members Divetta Johnson (phonetic) and Sheila Brown and -- Martin (phonetic). And I know that when you were in Atlanta the other day I asked for federal assistance. I didn't know it would be coming this quickly, Mr. President, but I cannot tell you how much we appreciate this opportunity.

You recall when we were driving in, I talked about our community policing and our bicycle patrols and our horse patrols and how community policing has really made a difference in Atlanta. But clearly, more officers will help us to be more effective. And I believe that your promise and your commitment to make Atlanta's streets safer have been fulfilled with this grant. It will allow us to hire more officers. And I could not thank you enough.

I know that crime is the number one issue in this country. And the fact that you have focused on this issue, and has helped Atlanta, certainly is important to us.

I want to thank you also, as did Mayor Archer, for your work on the assault weapons ban. It was fabulous work. Our own Congressman John Lewis was one of your key supporters in that effort. And we will continue to help your effort to get the crime bill passed through Congress, because there is no more pressing item on the urban agenda than making our streets safe.

But community policing is more than more police, it is also getting involved with the community. And I think you've talked about that -- having our police officers know the children, to walk the streets, know the neighborhoods, to be active role models. And we intend to utilize this grant to do all those things. And I could not thank you enough. And we look forward to you coming back to Atlanta again soon.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Mayor. I just want to point out, you know, when you and I talked last week, we emphasized that it's not just important to have more people, it's important to do the right things with them. And I know that you will do that. I know the other mayors will.

I think we also need to hammer home the message that we all believe that we can have substantial reductions in the crime rate. We believe that the streets of America can be made safer again. That is the ultimate objective of all these initiatives -- to allow the American people to live in safety and security and freedom with a real sense that we're part of a community again, that we don't have to be afraid of each other. And I am convinced it can be done. And we're going to do what we can here knowing that grass-roots leaders like you have to make the difference.

General Reno, do you have anything to say?

ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: No. Just Amen. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Have a great day. Thank you.

Q? President Clinton, have you decided on your Supreme Court nominee, will you announce today, and who is it?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you won't have to wait much longer. When I have a decision, I will announce it. But let me answer -- there was a question earlier. There was an interesting comment in the paper today by a -- I'm sorry, I don't remember the gentleman's name -- but an expert on this whole process who pointed out that the most important thing is for the President to appoint someone that the President feels very good about and a high level of confidence in. I know that this has now become the most pressing story in the capital. But this is really a story that will have implications for years, indeed, perhaps for decades to come.

And one of the -- I think one of the benefits, and perhaps one of the burdens, the American people got when I was elected President is that I believe I know a lot about this issue, and I care a lot about it. I used to teach constitutional law. This is not a decision I can defer to aides, even though I have been wellassisted in this and I appreciate it. So I am going to attempt to do what I did last time, even against all the pressure of time deadlines, and that's to make a really good decision that I feel good about.

I think that I did that with Judge Ginsburg. The Attorney General advised me on that issue, and I appreciate her advice. And she's given me some advice this time, and I appreciate that. But you won't have to wait much longer. And when I do it, it will be something that I'm convinced will be good for the United States for a long time to come. And if it takes just a little time to work through these questions that I have, then it's worth doing.

Q Does that mean you just haven't reached a decision yet?

THE PRESIDENT: It means just what I said -- when I have something to announce, I will announce it. On these matters, I tend to keep my own counsel more than on other things. I think it is the right thing to do. It is one of the few things that the President just does on his own -- of course, ultimately with the advice and the consent of the Senate. I'm going to do my best to do a good job with it.

Thank you.

END12:24 P.M. EDT