THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota) ______________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release August 12, 1994
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT, PHILADELPHIA MAYOR EDWARD RENDELL, AND NEW YORK MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI TO THE 16TH ANNUAL CONVENTION OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF POLICE ORGANIZATIONS
Marriott City Center Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
1:00 P.M. CDT
MAYOR RENDELL: What happened yesterday in Washington is an outrage. It's an outrage against the people of Philadelphia; it's an outrage against the people of Minneapolis and St. Paul; and it's an outrage against the people of America.
Before I was Mayor, I spent 17 years in law enforcement, nine as an assistant D.A. and eight as the District Attorney of Philadelphia. And for all that time I listened to the debate on crime in Washington. And everybody talked tough about crime; everybody had fancy rhetoric and tough talk. But nobody was willing to put up one nickel to help us, to help us in the street, to help us in the prosecutor's office, to help these policemen do their job.
We have a President who is the first President in recent memory who was willing to put his money where his mouth was, who was willing to do something real to help America deal with its number-one problem: crime in our streets, crime in our houses, crime everywhere. This President ought to be commended.
"This crime bill ought to be passed -- no "ifs," "ands," and "buts."
Let me tell you what this crime bill is not about. It is not about partisanship. On our stage today we have Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the great Mayor of New York, who happens to be a Republican. You've heard loud and clear yesterday from Mayor Richard Riordan of Los Angeles, who happens to be a Republican. Mayors across this country who know what crime does, how it eats away the fabric of our society and our cities and our towns; mayors understand that this isn't a Republican or Democratic issue. We are united: The crime bill must be passed.
And this is not about pork. Does anybody think that increasing the number of uniformed police officers on the streets of America by over 15 percent is pork? Does anybody think that building $8 billion worth of new prisons to hold dangerous criminals in is pork? Does anybody think programs that give kids a chance to be trained for jobs and get off drugs is pork?
Well, if they do, they're sadly mistaken, and they're playing Russian Roulette with this nation's future.
So for all of us, for all Americans, for all of our citizens, we must dedicate ourselves today to an all--out effort -- none of us can rest until this crime bill, which will put 100,000 new police on the streets of Philadelphia, thousands more in towns and cities across this country -- until that crime bill is a reality. Police, prisons and prevention. It won't solve all of our problems with crime, but it will get us a long way down the road.
Let's dedicate ourselves today not to just talk about it, but to go out and do it in the next several days. Let's get this bill passed -- for our citizens in Philadelphia, for your citizens in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and for all the people of America. (Applause.)
MAYOR GIULIANI: Thank you very much. The Mayor of St. Paul was originally from Brooklyn. And the borough president of Brooklyn, who happens to be a Democrat, Mr. President, tells me that one out of seven people actually came from Brooklyn. (Laughter.) It's true, don't you think? Tommy, do you think that's true?
I've spent a good deal of my life in law enforcement, fighting crime. I grew up in a family in which I had four uncles who were police officers. And from the time I was a very little boy, they were my heroes -- and they continue to be my heroes because they're fighting a battle that, unfortunately, is a very difficult one and getting much worse. It's true of big cities like Philadelphia, like New York, like Minneapolis, like Los Angeles, but it's true of all the suburban areas in America and it's true of the rural areas in America --we have too much crime.
Our people are telling us that. Our people are worried about that. They're concerned about it, and they have a right to be. And it is not a simple problem. It doesn't have a single answer to it. Yes, we need more police. This bill provides more police -- not just for the big cities, but for all of the areas of America. We need more police in all of the areas of America.
But we also need more jails, and we need more prisons. And this bill provides more jails and more prisons. And we need tougher penalties against crime. And this bill provides tougher penalties against crime. And we need the death penalty, and we need it enforced in a more sensible way. And this bill provides that.
But we also need to provide hope for the future. We need young people growing up with more hope than some of the young people who are growing up today, so that we aren't constantly fighting what appears to be a losing battle. And this bill also provides money and programs that try to help young people have hope for their future.
Much more of the money in this bill is provided for cops, for jails, for prisons and for law enforcement. But some of it is provided for programs that are designed to say to young people who are growing up with no hope that maybe they can have a better future. We need to do that for them, but maybe even more importantly, we need to do that for ourselves if want to, in a sensible way, in a decent way and a humane way, provide a better future for all of us.
So I think this is a balanced bill. Sure, there are things in it that probably someone disagrees with, you can find to disagree with or I can find to disagree with. And I am sure there are parts of this the President disagrees with. But it's been a long time in putting it together. And it makes the single biggest step forward in the most sensible way, fighting the short-term and long-term problems of crime than any piece of legislation that we're likely to get in a very long time. It would be a shame if we lost it over procedural possibilities, rules, over partisanship.
This is something in which just as many Republicans as Democrats supported this. Just as many Republicans as Democrats should be proud to support it. It's a time in which Republicans and Democrats can come together and work for the good of our entire country. We don't get as many opportunities as we should to do that any longer. This is one in which we get the opportunity to do it -- to step beyond partisanship and try to help the country.
So I am very, very proud to say, not only as the Mayor of New York City and as someone involved in law enforcement, but as a Republican, that I support this bill, I believe it's necessary and will do everything I can to help the President to pass it.
And thank you very much, Mr. President, for having the courage to carry on this fight. God bless you. (Applause.)
Since I began by telling you that police officers are my heroes, I get the great privilege and the honor to introduce a sergeant right here in your police department, a representative to NAPO, a police officer who has a long and distinguished career as a police officer, but also a police officer who goes into the schools and teaches young people about the dangers of drugs.
This is one of these programs that people call prevention that some people are disturbed about. These are exactly the kinds of programs that we need, exactly the kinds of programs that we need more of.
And, Sergeant Ganley, will you please come forward, because I'd like to shake your hand and thank you very, very much. (Applause.)
SERGEANT GANLEY: Thank you, everybody. My name is Sergeant Mick Ganley. I'm the president of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association. I'm a 23-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department. And as Rudy indicated, I'm currently serving as a DARE officer with the Minneapolis Police Department.
As a working police officer, I can tell you that I represent 6,000 cops, working cops in the State of Minnesota. And we have joined hands with NAPO and represent thousands of officers across the country. And in Washington, D.C., the debate for years has been whether a crime bill should focus on propunishment or pro-prevention. I can tell you that as a working law enforcement professional out on the street every day, we need the tools to compete in today's world.
The criminals are arming themselves better and better daily. They use the automatic weapons to ply their trade, and we need support that is in this crime bill. We've been working for several years, attempting to get a comprehensive crime control package passed and enacted so that we can go forward and make some progress.
I know that a lot of people talk about winning the war on crime. I think that a major piece of this is something that my grandmother used to tell me when I was a young kid and Grandma Kirwin told me so many times, it's kind of in my mind. And that is an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I think we always have to keep that in mind, that our goal really is to keep these kids out of prison. But if they grow up to go into prison, then we have to have the facilities to house them.
It's unconscionable for me to think that special interest groups can derail all of the hard work that has been done over the years to put together this package, this positive law enforcement package. I can tell you that President Clinton and law enforcement have been working hand in hand to get this package together and make it become a reality.
I have never -- and I've talked to other enforcement professionals -- we have never had the support from the White House that we have today. And I can tell you as I stand here today that President Bill Clinton is one of the best friends that law enforcement has ever had. (Applause.)
At this time I'd like to tell you that I am truly humble, it's a great professional honor and a distinct personal privilege to present to you the President of the United States. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much, Sergeant Ganley, for your introduction and for your life of commitment.
I'm glad to be here again with Mayor Sayles Belton and Mayor Coleman in the Twin Cities area. I want to thank Senator Wellstone and Congressman Vento for flying home with me. And I want to thank Congressman Vento, along with Tim Penny, David Minge, Martin Sabo, Jim Oberstar and Jim Ramstad for voting for safer streets and a brighter future last night in the United States House. (Applause.)
I want to thank Tom Scott and my longtime friend, Bob Scully, and the other members of NAPO -- Dennis Flaherty and others -- for their support for all the elements of this crime bill.
And I'd like to thank especially the two mayors who flew here with me today, one a Republican, one a Democrat, both former prosecutors, people who believe in the promise of our country and our future, and understand that unless we do something about crime we're never going to fulfill it. Ed Rendell and Rudolph Giuliani represent what this country ought to be about -- people belonging to the political party of their choice, but when the time comes putting party aside and putting people first. And I thank them, and I wish we had more like them in the United States Congress. (Applause.)
Now, folks, you all know what happened last night. The House of Representatives tried to take the easy way out; tried to walk away from the crime bill. Because of organized, intense and highly political pressure, a majority walked away -- away from the police patrolling our streets, away from the children and the senior citizens afraid to walk on those streets, away from all the hard-working middle-class Americans who were not organized into any group, but who had told us over and over again that crime is their first concern, and pleaded with us to do something about it.
The people of Minneapolis know that taking the easy way out is no longer an option. Two years ago next month, Officer Jerry Haaf was shot in the back in a restaurant by gang members. Today his wife, Marilyn, their two children and their two grandchildren and one son-in-law came to be with me and to meet with me. I'd like to ask them to stand up and be recognized. (Applause.)
Their husband, father, grandfather gave everything he had to the Minneapolis police force for 30 years, and he and his family deserve better than what they got from the House of Representatives last night. (Applause.)
You know, we had a wonderful visit in there. It never occurred to me or to Mayor Giuliani or to Mayor Rendell or to Congressman Vento or Senator Wellstone, who were in there visiting with his family, to ask them whether they were Republicans or Democrats or independents. I don't have a clue. And I don't care. They're entitled to better than they got from the House of Representatives last night. (Applause.)
Every day, the police of this country, including those in this wonderful national organization who are convening here, put on uniforms and badges and walk on streets, into problems, risking their lives to serve people they're sworn to protect. They don't run from their responsibilities. They don't hide behind tricks. And they don't walk away from their folks. If they did, think what would happen to the United States.
That's why the walk-away last night in Congress is so disturbing. The first responsibility of government is law and order. Without that, freedom can never really be fully alive. Without that, people can never really pursue the American Dream.
The police here know that. That's what their lives are all about. Most ordinary Americans, without regard to their party, know that deep down in their bones. Last night we had a vote on democracy's most fundamental responsibility -- and law and order lost, 210 to 225.
Two hundred and twenty-five members of the Congress participated in a procedural trick orchestrated by the National Rifle Association and intensely promoted by the Republican congressional leadership; a trick designed with one thing in mind, to put the protection of partisan and special interests over the protection of ordinary Americans and still leave what Mr. Scotto called the Jackie Mason trick -- "well, I would have voted for it if only it had been there for me to vote on."
It's the same old Washington game, just stick it to ordinary Americans because special interests can keep you in Congress forever; and special interests can beat you because they're organized and they have money and they can confuse Godfearing, heard-working, ordinary Americans.
Well, goodness knows, I've seen a lot of that in my time, as your President and even before. But the time has come for those of you to say that the only way for Congress to make their seats safe is to make the rest of America safer. (Applause.)
When I ran for this office, and when I went to Washington, I had dreams that many said were naive. I really dreamed that we could govern in Washington the way most mayors and governors do; that somehow we would be able to go beyond the labels that colored our view of the past, beyond Republican and Democrat and liberal and conservative, and whether you were for punishment and prevention in this case.
Those old left-right deals, they make great headlines, but they often don't do anything to solve people's problems. They're great in 30-second ads, throwing those rhetorical bombs over the wall at your opponent, but they don't keep any kids alive, or help any families to get through the day. And we're in a whole new era in which everything in the world is changing, and we cannot afford to be bound by the categories of the past.
The thing I like so much about this crime bill -- Mayor Giuliani's right -- if he sat down alone and wrote it, it wouldn't be just like it is. If I sat down alone and wrote it, it wouldn't be just like it is. But the thing that's so good about it is that it rejects all those false choices that the politics of the past always tries to impose on ordinary people in our complicated lives. It says, no more false choices, let's do what common sense dictates.
And the reason it does is that this bill was largely the handiwork of people in law enforcement. We never had a bill before that was endorsed by every major law enforcement group in the entire United States. So it puts 100,000 police on the street. It says three strikes and you're out is the law of the land, and makes available more funds for prisons to house serious offenders. It bans handgun ownership for juveniles and bans assault weapons that gangs and thugs use to outgun the police. But it also protects 650 specifically named hunting and sporting weapons, something the American people too often are not told.
It imposes tougher penalties for violent crimes, all right. There is a death penalty for killing an officer of the law in the line of duty. But it also has the prevention funds in there. You heard these people in law enforcement talking about it. It makes my blood boil when I hear people talking about pork. Because, you see, I have seen the eyes of schoolchildren after the DARE officer has talked to them.
I remember when the DARE program came into my child's elementary school and how it affected the way she looked at the whole issue of drugs and her personal responsibility, and how if affected all those kids who never had a daddy at home to say this is right, or this is wrong, who didn't have a job in the home to say, this is the future you can have.
Who are we trying to kid with all of this rhetoric? Talk to people like us, who have been to the funerals of police officers gunned down in the line of duty, and I dare you to find one person who knows anything about this, who's not for tougher punishment and more prevention. (Applause.)
Just imagine what would be happening in America today if Congress had yesterday voted to take 100,000 police officers off of the street, to put 19 more kinds of assault weapons on the street. To get rid of prison space for 100,000 criminals. Well, that's what they did -- no to 100,000 police, no to the juvenile ownership of handguns ban, no to the assault weapons ban, no to three strikes and you're out, no to the prisons, no to the prevention.
You know, this is the kind of political mess Congress has been caught in over this crime bill for six years. Before I ever showed up under two previous presidents is politics -- everybody talk about crime, nothing ever got done for six years. The average violent criminal only stays in prison four years. We let a whole generation go by with nothing getting done.
Now, last night, we gave the Congress a chance a chance to put people ahead of politics, to go with police and punishment and prevention, and until last night, I really thought they would. Until last night, this crime bill was a bipartisan effort to the core.
The first time the bill came up in the House of Representatives, the assault weapons ban wasn't in it, but there was even more prevention money in it, and 65 Republicans voted for the crime bill last April with the prevention money they now attack in the bill.
In May, 38 Republicans voted for the assault weapons ban with the 650 hunting and sporting weapons protected. But when the crime bill came back to the House, it had even more police, more prisons, tougher penalties. And the assault weapons ban they had already adopted.
Then, instead of 65 Republicans, or even 38, only 11 brave Republicans, including Jim Ramstad from Minnesota -- (applause) -- stood up and did the right thing. The rest, including 19 Republicans who voted for everything in this bill, and more than 50 who voted for the prevention programs they now attack, walked away and turned it into a partisan issue.
Yes, they were joined in voting no by some Democrats, a handful of whom were, on grounds of conscience, opposed to the death penalty; most of whom came from places like my home. They come from small-town, rural America where hunting is important, where the crime rates tend to be lower, where the NRA is very successful, it's scaring people with misinformation.
But you know something -- there were a lot of Democrats who voted against the assault weapons ban who came back and voted for the crime bill last night. There were some Democrats who were deeply opposed to capital punishment, and they still voted for the crime bill last night because they put the safety of the people of this country first.
We need more Democrats, and we need more Republicans to follow the lead of those 11 brave Republicans and the Democrats who put aside their differences with certain specific provisions to put the American people first. That is what we must have -- more people like that. People who believe in you and your future and will not take the easy way out. The walkaway crowd has got to change. (Applause.)
You know that we didn't get you a crime bill yesterday. But we're going to get you a crime bill. We are going to get you a crime bill. (Applause.)
To all the police officers in this country who walk out there for us every day -- Washington cannot walk away from you. And all the ordinary Americans who are just out there watching this unfold, hearing all the rhetorical wars back and forth, who know there's no American association for ordinary citizens up there walking the halls of Congress -- we're not going to walk away from you either.
Yes, it was a defeat yesterday, and I felt terrible about it. But this morning I woke up feeling good because that's a vote I'd much rather be on the losing side of than the winning side. I am glad I will never have to explain to my wife, my daughter, my grandchildren and the people who sent me to Washington why I did something like what was done to the American people yesterday.
Let us turn it around and put the people of this country first.
Thank you and God bless you all. (Applause.)
END1:59 P.M. CDT