THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Louisville, Kentucky) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release January 24, 1996
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON ON LOUISVILLE COMMUNITY-ORIENTED POLICING
Louisville District Four Police Station Louisville, Kentucky
1:52 P.M. EST
Q Mr. President, Madam Attorney General, welcome to the Louisville Division of Police. To make the best use of your time, I want to take this opportunity to talk about where we believe the federal government has been beneficial in our efforts in developing community-oriented policing in the Louisville Division of Police.
First, the research and grants program gave us an opportunity to understand that random results and rapid response brought us rapid random results. (Laughter.) The second thing that we saw was that an over-reliance on statistics and an over-reliance on arrest crime rates got us away from what our focus should be, which is on the community -- their involvement, their innovation, their buy-in and their commitment. Specifically where the federal government has been most helpful to us is in creating hope.
Embattled neighborhoods have long heard "we're from the government, we're here to help you." But often, competing interests and various bureaucratic programs brought mixed results and sometimes left neighborhoods with suspicion, with mistrust, and with complacency. Obviously, developing a relationship with the police department who has the authority by law to deprive you of your liberty and even your life is somewhat difficult, and is often something that is not done very quickly or very easily.
The relationship with our COP Board has taken time. I believe you and the White House have acknowledged through the COPS program and the Crime Bill that these kind of relationships do take time and they can transcend careers. And we appreciate your efforts in doing that. We know that in time we and the city of Louisville and the Division of Police, we may be one of your examples for your next State of the Union address. We hope that we can have your continued support.
We know that the members of the Community Oriented Policing Board here are committed. We know that they are receptive to our program of the District Police Source Officers. What we hope to do is these officers who are sitting in here today represent the other neighborhoods in the city of Louisville, so that we can take our program to them. These officers realize two things. First of all, they realize the value of the true power of working with the community. And second, they are committed to changing the face of public safety in Louisville.
So with your continued support, we hope to be able to make this a long-term commitment, and not one that dies. We know that our philosophy in the Louisville Division of Police and the city of Louisville is one of community-oriented government.
This COP Board believes like you that government should work for them. And I believe in the long haul, we can persevere. Our Mayor, fortunately, also believes that local government should work for their citizens, and he has been very beneficial in providing the resources we need to try to grow neighborhood successes one neighborhood at a time.
Q Thank you. Mr. President, we do welcome you to Louisville, and you have around the table members of a community-oriented policing board, you have the members of the Block Watch organization and you have some of what we call "the Clinton Cops," the 16 individuals who we are able to move out into the neighborhoods for community-oriented policing as a result of the Crime Bill.
You should remember the Chief because he was in your office about three years ago, along with about 15 or 18 other police chiefs talking about the importance of community-oriented policing. We'd like to turn it over to you for any comments you might have, and we would love to engage you with the folks around the table to talk a little bit about the future of this program.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me first of all thank the Chief, the Mayor and Governor Patton, Congressman Ward for making us feel so welcome. The Attorney General and her entire team who work on this are here, and we want to thank all of the citizens and the police officers who want to meet with us.
I'd like to make just a couple of brief points. First of all, when I ran for president and I began to travel the country looking for ways to bring the crime rate down, when I realized that every community I visited, that ordinary citizens were worried about crime and violence.
The one thing that came up over and over in all parts of the country that seemed to be working was, what is now known generally as community policing. And when we finally passed the Crime Bill in 1994, which had been debated in Congress for six years. We had added to that Crime Bill a specific title to give funds to communities all across our country to create 100,000 new police officers. There was a reason for that.
Between 1965 and 1995, more or less, the violent crime rate in America tripled, but the number of police officers on our street increased by only 10 percent. And that's why we did that. Now, we're about a third of the way home, Louisville's gotten 16 police; I think Jefferson County has gotten a total of 36, something like that. But we're working hard to try to get more people out here.
It is now being recognized -- I know one of the major news magazines had a cover story where the New York City Police Chief the other day, talking about how crime was coming down in America because of community policing. One of the things I asked the Congress to do last night was to support this program until we finished it.
I just want to make two other points if I might. This, in my opinion, is the way the federal government ought to relate to American citizens. We put up the money and we say this money is for police, and you have to put up some, we'll put some and here it is if you want it.
And then we developed a -- I want to compliment the attorney general and the Justice Department, they developed a pretty hassle-free way of applying for the money, there's not a lot of bureaucracy in it. And then we don't tell anybody how to train the police, we don't tell them how to deploy, we don't tell them how to relate to the community. That's all things that have to be decided here at the local level. That's none of our business. We just know that we have to do what we can to give you the resources necessary to achieve the goal.
The second point I want to make, just to emphasize what has already been said, it is obvious to me that there are basically three components to success. One is having the police out there properly deployed. And the second, and maybe the most important, is having some relationship with the community. That's why I asked the American people last night to respect and work with their police officers, because if you don't have that then this won't work.
The third thing I want to say -- I want to compliment the mayor -- is that within this whole framework our biggest problem now is rising levels of violence among juveniles nationwide. And the mayor also is participating in another one of our programs and got some funds to start, I know, some sports teams and other things here to make a special effort with young people. And that's the last thing I want to emphasize. You know, we just got so many of these children out there that are in trouble, having difficulties. And the police cannot do that alone. They need people to support them in organizing and coming up with the resources to give the children in areas with high rates of crime something positive to do. And I think that Louisville's got a lot to be proud of on all fronts. I'm glad to be here, and I've already said more than I meant to. I'd like to listen to you now.
Q Well, let me turn it over to the lady that we named this room we're sitting in after, Mrs. MacLuton. She was last year, and the year before, and the year before, and has been for several years, the chairman of the community oriented policing board in this neighborhood. She's been an aggressive person -- did I say aggressive -- (laughter) -- I mean strong, and she needs to tell you a little bit about what it has meant to the neighborhood and what it has meant to the folks that she lives with and helps out.
Q Mr. President, as the Mayor said, we started here about in the early '90s with the COP program, when it was originally written as a grant to see if it would work. And the idea was we were one of the six sites chosen and -- it was in the 4th district -- and if it would work here, it would work anywhere, because we had a high rate of crime, we didn't have many citizens' involvement at the time, as far as block watches and those types of things.
I've been on board now for the past six years. I have seen it grow from just a few neighborhoods to everybody wanting to be involved in it. I think with the new district resource offices that we have we -- at first we had the Crime Prevention Offices, and they just could not be in every neighborhood talking to everybody. A lot -- we did forums, we found out that what the police department felt was problems, the citizens didn't feel in their neighborhood that that was a problem.
Now we come to the table and we work it out together. And that's what it's all about. It's a working partnership. And I think that from community-oriented policing a lot of things have developed. And now that it's going citywide and we're talking to other districts, and the districts are not, kind of, alienated from one another. We're finding out different things to use. We have hot-spot cards. Those are cards that are used when you -- to identify trouble in each area. And if you're scared to come to the police department, you just drop them in the mail.
We now have a blanket, block watch manual that everybody in the city will use as far as learning how to report crime, what to look for in a neighborhood, what to keep your neighborhood safe, how to empower yourself. I see the Clinton bill and the Crime bill as a way of empowering ourselves. I think we lost that. When we used to have beat officers and we took them off of the street and put them in the cars so they could do more area. And I think that's where we lost that one-on-one, hands-on. But I think now we're getting that back.
I think a lot of the neighborhoods, they know who rides their beat. You know, they know their beat officer. The beat officers knows who lives in their beat and who is out of place there. I think that's why COP works. I have been here, like I said, for six years, and volunteered the whole time. It is the community volunteering -- I know federal money will not last forever. I understand that. But I think once we realize that it is a voluntary, it is me, Carolyn MacLuton, taking that control of where I live and sharing that with the police department that will make it grow and will make it a success.
Q How about the Block Watch focus? Nick is the president of the Mayor's Block Watch Council.
Q Well, I think, first, Mr. President, it's an honor and a privilege to be here with you. And what I can tell you is from where I sit, we get reports from all five districts within the city on a monthly basis. We come together monthly, it's all volunteers. And each of the members of the council are selected from within the police districts by the crime prevention officers to serve on this council.
And I can tell you that over the past two to three years -- the three years that I've been involved, that the reports that we get on a monthly basis are very positive as -- with the crime rate going down due to community-oriented policing. Just as some success stories, I can tell you that in my own district the drug problem was reduced over the past two years by 75 percent. And that would not have happened if not for federal funds, because they have to pay the overtime for the officers to concentrate on the special crime areas.
So as I hear all the reports come in every month from all over the district, we find crime down, more drug arrests are up. And the other fact is that all the districts have different problems. For example, in some district drug use and may be a problem, and in another district, drug sales may be a problem. Where all of the officers can come together and talk to us about and we learn more about what's going on in the other districts, it can let us formulate plans to cover the whole city.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask you a question. You said -- and I appreciate you saying that, but you couldn't be doing this without the federal funds. But it's also true that you couldn't be doing it if you didn't have the citizens involved --
Q Absolutely. Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: And that's the point I was trying to make in The State of the Union last night, that when you're dealing with problems that are these people problems that -- whether it's crime or the -- you know, trying to get jobs into places, move people off welfare, you deal with all of these people problems, you've got to have a partnership. There is no government problem to solve this. You've got to have grass-roots citizens involved in it; otherwise, there is no way to get it done.
I sort of liken it -- we strike the match and you stoke the fire; you have to do it.
Q And every district is different, so they can tailor things for what is unique to the district in their neighborhood, because the citizens and Ms. MacLuton understands her district and Nick understand his, and they can tailor their situation to the specifics right in their neighborhood; and that's what's been so successful.
THE PRESIDENT: Since you've been doing this, do you think the general feeling of the people that live in your neighborhood about the police has improved?
Q I think it's improved a great deal because, in the beginning, the police were always called after the fact. They never saw concerned citizens like myself and all of these people in this room because we were not the ones being called for the trouble. They only saw those, the criminal element. Now that we've come together, they've found out that there's people in the neighborhood that are willing to do whatever they can to make the police officer's job easier -- as far as reporting crime, working with them together, and I think it's a partnership. We've not always had a partnership with the police department; it was more of a -- you do as we say, we'll come in and we'll do this and this is the way it'll be.
Like Nick said, from sharing with the other districts, all these other things have come out of it by knowing what's your problem. He said that, with drugs, youth might be a problem in my area; drug selling is a problem in his area. So the -- come about. That's what it is, and it's an exchange of ideas that has made it grow.
Q Maybe Officer Waters who has had 20-plus years on the force can give some focus as one of the district resource officers.
Q Well, the key word is partnership, because -- community-oriented partnerships. That's partnerships between the community, the residents, other city agencies. We now have the ability to utilize other agencies to do nontraditional police work in the communities, do things that people aren't used to seeing us do things that people aren't used to seeing us do in order to make their personal lives better, not just be an occupying force in this war on crime, but actually being their friends, being someone who is concerned about their day-to-day lives, not just when they have police-related problems. That's something that never before we had a chance to do.
This program allows us to interact with the community a great deal more, and you find that when we go into an area and we saturate it with our manpower and we remove crime, economic development can begin. I've noticed in this particular area, there are a lot of new homes that's been built, new businesses being started. These things would not happen if this was still a crime-ridden area.
When we go into an area and we try to reduce crime, it gives people insight on that particular area who feel that, yes, I would like to live in this area, yes, I would like to raise my family in this area, I would like to start a business in this area. These types of things make us feel good about what we do. We as police officers are proud people. We like to see results in what we do. We don't like to spend an entire career and not see one result. We enjoy seeing results on a day to day basis with this type of program. We thank you very much for your insight, we thank you very much for all that you have done to help us with this war on crime, and I think that with your continued help that we'll be able to do a great deal toward eliminating a lot of crime that's in America.
Q Charlie really hit on a note, because the whole focus of community-oriented policing is generally talked about in terms of crime statistics, Attorney General, and they're always looking at trying to figure out is it going up or going down. But in fact, when you begin to move in giving people a feeling of comfort and security, then a new home is built. And then, all of a sudden, a business moves a light manufacturing factory into the community and develops an opportunity for people to have jobs. And there is a ripple effect beyond just the statistics.
And I think, Charlie, you hit it right on the front of the head.
Peggy is a member of both Block Watch as well as the Community-Oriented Policing Board. Peggy?
Q Well, I think that the Community-Oriented policing is probably one of the best things that we've had in a long time. Along with the Mayor's Council, we started, under --guidance from the COP Board, people are appointed, as Nick said, from the different districts. But what we have is an interaction there that we, in each district, knows what we could do to help them. We have all these things in common. The Chief -- we were very fortunate from the COP Board to take classes, which have been offered to some of the citizens that are 12 -- we had 12 weeks, and we learned -- we learned about how many there were.
So we go back to the neighbors and say, there's no way this man can come to your house like this. You know, you've only got so many officers to cover so many things. We learned the budget, we would visit communications, how long it takes -- if an officer makes an arrest, has to go downtown, be pulled off the streets -- we learned all these things.
As we learned them, we were supposed to -- and we have -- taken the back to the community to the Mayor's council. I think this city is wonderful, people who live here -- we have a lot of problems, but we work together; always have.
Q This is the police academy, citizens police academy.
THE PRESIDENT: Is this being done anywhere else in the country that you know of? Chief?
Q Is it?
Q San Francisco(?)
THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to say, this is the first person I ever heard talk about that, but it makes a world of sense that it would be very good for citizens if one person on every block in a big city, for example, knew how the police department worked, what the police were up against, how the structure was, what the budget was, I think it would make a huge amount of difference; that's a wonderful idea.
Q Mr. President, I think we have a manual that we can give you, or some of your staff, that you can take back with you.
THE PRESIDENT: Great. That's a wonderful idea.
Q Yes, we've got that right there. You want us to just bring it up and put it on the --
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead.
Q That's a manual -- how many classes have we run, Chief?
Q We started our fourth one last night. The county's also starting one I saw, David, with a new chief, so it's something that really gets people engaged in understanding the difficulties, and it's just an academy; it's a citizens' academy and provides an opportunity for them to better understand and appreciate.
Q But that, also like I said, comes out of the catalyst of COP. You know, it was a way that we found out, hearing from the community, that we don't get a police officer in 10 minutes when we call. Well, why don't we?
Well, then, after we found out in talking to the police department, that's how the academy came about, so that we could give the statistics that were needed when you go to these different neighborhoods, and these are the kinds of problems that you have come up.
Q Steve, you wanted to talk a little bit? You're reasonably new. You're in your second year, finishing your second year on the force?
Q Yes, sir. First of all, I'd like to say thank you for coming to Louisville, Kentucky, Mr. President -- not only Louisville, Kentucky, but to the west end. The west end is very dear to my heart. I live down here, I work here and I pastor a church here.
One thing, I'm not a -- and I would not pattern myself after anything that I did not think have potential to change the people. When you came out with the Crime Bill a couple of years ago, I thought about it and I said, what in the world is a Crime Bill. First of all, the Crime Bill is a plan to allow us to identify the problem. And what people must realize, the police are no good without the people, and the people are no good without the police.
First of all, you have a good plan. And the Bible says in Hosea 4 and 6, my people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. And one thing the Crime Bill is doing is giving us an opportunity to gain some knowledge, because if you don't have knowledge, you destroy yourself and you die. Second of all, your Crime Bill has to have people who are dedicated, people who are committed to work. A lot of people would jump on the bandwagon, would not do anything -- allow people to work and then when all success happens, then everybody will jump up and say, I was with President Clinton, I was there all the time. (Laughter.) It happens like that --
Q I've seen that in local campaigns. More bumper stickers show up the day after the election.
Q Because everybody will not help you, everybody will not support you, and most of all, in this Crime Bill, the COP, Community Oriented Policing, we have to be aware of internal destruction. Anything that is torn down is not torn down by people on the outside, it's torn down by people on the inside. Just like the Senate, Congress, the police department, and when this was first introduced, a lot of people had flack -- they said, well, we can't police anymore; they want us to be social workers. This is a social job .
It does not matter how you arrest people, but it does matter how you talk to people, because I've always desired to be a police officer at a young age, but I did not always like police officers, because growing up in the south end part of Jefferson County, I was always harassed. Police came in our neighborhood; we knew they had authority, but they demonstrated their authority, and they would call us names and choke us. And I said, Lord, if I ever became a police officer, I want to police people the way I want to be treated.
And that's one thing the Crime Bill has given us an opportunity to do, is to treat the people the way we want to be treated. And last of all, you have to have execution. We have to follow through with this. You just can't -- it looks good on paper, but if you don't have people who are dedicated and people who are ready to execute it, you just have words on paper.
We have to stop being a monument. We have to move forward to the next century. A community that is mis-educated or misinformed is a community that you have lost. And I thank God for the COP to talk to people, because as a beat officer when I was driving around I did not have time to stop and talk to people on my beat because I was always busy answering calls with the service. And when this came in effect, the community-oriented policing, I do what they call city call complaints -- when community people call to the City Hall and complain about abandoning cars in their neighborhood, a lot of people -- even myself, you say, oh, that's a joke. That's not police work. But I found out investigating that, I was able to go get cars removed. And when I looked inside of cars I found guns that were in abandoned cars. And people are using abandoned cars to store their drugs and their weapons in these cars. And if it hadn't been for the community-oriented police and the people feeling that they could call the police, and we act on what they complained about, we would never have found those guns.
And I just think it's a wonderful idea.
Q You can see the energy of the folks you've talked to. And I want you to hear from Officer Cook because I think the 16 officers who are out there doing this work and following this lead that you've set are really energized, and through them, they are able to energize neighborhood folks. And with the leadership of the citizens that you see around the table, it's an incredible collaboration that is making a difference.
Q Well, you gain trust by it. Not only do you gain trust with the community, you meet people you never met before that are a part of the ones that you need. We need each other. And so many times, beat officers can only do so much in one day. This has allowed us as a team -- and there's 16 of us, and we meet regularly to share our ideas, and each time that we meet we're coming up with newer and newer ideas. We are real excited about it because we're getting the trust back from people that lost trust in us.
Citizens as far as -- we get to gain one-on-one again. They'll tell us their problems. And they're amazed that we actually can either direct them, guide them, refer them where in the past we couldn't do that because we didn't know the sources or the knowledge to make these referrals.
And through all this, by constantly going to the community meetings and meeting with citizens and the other officers we have developed a sort of -- and we gain information and insight from officers that we work with on a daily basis. Of course, no one likes changes. And that's the thing in the community. No one likes changes because there's so many programs and there's so many daily activities and there's so many organizations that have great interest in certain -- either crime, drug, anything -- it all pertains or it all comes together where we have to work and renew what we lost.
Community policing has always been here, we have just given it a name. We've just redefined it and gave it direction and hope. But that takes time. And that takes time for everyone to adjust to that.
THE PRESIDENT: But it looks to me like what is happening
in the -- and, by the way, law enforcement is not the only place where
we need to do this, as I said. But, you know, to go back and organize
people on a community basis is a very important thing in this country.
I mean, if you think that's --really, we've gotten away from that in a
lot of ways. And that's why so many organizations and so many
government programs fail, is because there's no structure underneath it
that's capable of
actually carrying the load. So I'm very impressed by this.
General Reno, do you want to say anything, ask any questions?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: Mr. President, this is a beautiful manual. It's one of the best that I have seen just in its table of contents and what it's addressed at. It's just excellent. I'd be interested in what you all have learned in terms of the best programs to deal with youth and the problems that we see across the country in terms of youth violence.
Q Talking about activities for young people. As you remember, Attorney General Reno, because there were the mayors and the police chiefs joined together to try to enhance the prevention aspect, to get involved with kids early on to ensure that they would be ultimate assets, rather than liabilities. And we've had -- the athletic programs, the recreational programs, after school activities, things that we paid for and that some of the crime bill was funded for -- and, unfortunately, some was taken out and we didn't get the funding, as you remember -- we argued for it on a balanced approach. The President was focusing on enforcement as well as prevention.
But in terms of in the neighborhoods, Steve, what are you doing with the kids that you bump into? How are you interacting with the --
Q A lot of the kids, what I did over the Christmas break, I went into the Parkland Boys and Girls Club and coached basketball. I had a basketball team with my church and some of the kids in the neighborhood. We're trying to get the kids off the street to allow them to play athletics. Because if you play sports all day long and they go home, they're too tired to go rob somebody or rape somebody. I'm just a firm believer that you wear somebody out, they don't have time for anything else.
And that's why I'm excited. I just feel the enthusiasm because I grew -- I came up through the ranks of a juvenile system and I've seen the same children I'm arresting now, I arrested when they were 12 and 13 years old. It's been a revolving door. And so the sports -- we're ready to get our sports camp going through the federal funded money, which I'm excited about. Myself and Officer Waters and Officer Renee Wilson, we're trying to get the kids together, find a location and pull the kids in during spring break because what I'm finding out, when children have nothing to do that's when crime happens. We have to keep them active all the time -- because an idle mind is a devil's workshop. Officer Waters?
Q Myself, like Officer Kelsey, I coach basketball, work sometimes with the Boy Scouts. But what we're trying to do now is to reach these kids while they still have open minds, when they have something on their mind other than crime. If we can show them an alternative to crime and get them interested in other things, these are things that we're trying to build character with.
We're not looking at just the child, we're looking at the person the child is going to become. If we can make a difference now then we can make a productive human being in the future, not a liability on the society by having to place them, incarcerate them somewhere and get no use from them. We would like to save every child. That's not going to be possible. But we can save as many as we can through our sports camps and through interacting with the kids and getting other officers, hopefully, to join us in helping us with our sports camps and going out in the community and helping us bring the kids in to, you know, enjoy some of these resources.
Q We've also expanded our DARE program beyond just the fifth grade, all the way up through middle school -- or junior high school -- in an attempt to continue to interact with kids beyond the fifth grade, where it initially was started, but up through the middle school period. Peggy?
Q Well, you know, this is the new year, new board and everything else. But if you listen, everybody's talking about basketball, everybody's talking about all those things. We have young ladies we need to reach in a different way. In this neighborhood the young ladies are out with the guys. Their behavior -- you try to talk to them, you can only mentor so many. We need to reach out with other people.
And I know churches offer these things. But the children in this district don't have the advantage of transportation, to go to all the sewing things or whatever -- just to learn the niceties that other people have. I think the resource officers are going to sort of go back to what it was like when I grew up, the policeman on the street. He's going to know everybody, they're going to know him. I think these children that are out here -- once these officers are visible and go one-on-one to the doors, they'll know that policing is back in the city. You know, they have to be held accountable.
So that's one thing with these officers. They're going to know people. We're all going to work together and I think it's going to make all the difference in the world in our young people. But we don't want to forget something for the ladies.
Q What we tried to do, although you didn't declare us an empowerment zone community, Mr. President, we became an enterprise community -- (laughter.) We decided to declare ourselves an empowerment zone community, and as a result, our citizens continue to work together for the -- (President continues to laugh.) Well, mistakes are made. (Laughter.)
We have been able, in terms of housing, child care, neighborhood youth boards to work with teenagers to get them involved in community centers -- in fact, the president of our empowerment zone board is sitting right behind you, John Lemaster. We continue to work toward job training, youth activities, after-school activities, housing, taking -- you've given us $31 million to create a whole new neighborhood here.
Q And he can take it back, Mayor. (Laughter.)
Q But you talk about transportation -- you've provided almost $3 million for a public transportation facility here in this community that will give people an opportunity to get to the jobs where they are located, wherever they might be in the community.
So we've tried to take your focus of a seamless approach and develop all the aspects of enhancing the opportunity in the community that focuses on the kids, Attorney General, but also creates opportunities for child care so that they can go to work, job training so they can have the skills, transportation so they can get to the job. And as the security occurs in the neighborhoods, new jobs occur, new businesses occur, new homes are built.
THE PRESIDENT: If I could just make one observation about it, because I think it was Officer Waters that mentioned he could get business back into the neighborhoods when the crime rate goes down -- if you look at the American economy now, basically there are two problems. I talked about one of them last night, and that is that most Americans have jobs, but it's hard for them to get a raise in the global economy because there's always so much pressure to hold down the wages. And so that's a different question. I've tried to deal with that.
The other big problem is that the national unemployment rate is 5.6 percent, but with the exception of a few states like California still getting over the terrible blow they took when the defense budget went down, for example, and the recession of the late '80s, most other places have an unemployment rate that's about four percent or 4.5 percent generally, and they there will be these pockets where the unemployment rate is 10, or 12, or 15 percent.
Q Thirty percent.
THE PRESIDENT: Or 30 percent, yes. And you can't -- so that, if you look at it in this way, that is the number one potential market for the rest of the American economy. If you look at it that way. There are all these people living in our country that if they had jobs and they had any money, they would be growing our economy faster. They would be, in effect, if you added another one percent to the work force, that would give everybody else a raise, because they'd be buying everything everybody else produced; they would be generating a higher level of growth .
And that's another thing that I think has been overlooked. One of the main economic strategies we could follow to grow the American economy from inside would be to make all these places that have crime rates safe so investment that now might go, oh, south of the border, or anywhere else could easily flow in there to put people to work and create opportunity. I think it's something that we've really underestimated -- the economic aspect of this. I wanted to ask one other question mostly of those of you who have worked on the community boards and the crime watch. Would you say that this policing strategy makes your neighborhood safer, primarily because you can catch people who commit crimes more quickly, or because it prevents more crimes from occurring in the first place?
Q Prevents more crimes from occurring in the first place, because the neighborhood is now empowering itself, like I said before, and are getting involved, and are keeping a lot of the crime, the neighborhoods themselves can keep out of the neighborhood, by watching what moves into the neighborhood, watching the crime element that comes into the neighborhood. I think COP is more of a preventive measure, you know, if that makes any sense. I think it prevents it.
Once the neighborhoods are cleaned up, we even come up with a strategy of a program -- what to do after it's clean to keep it clean. I think Mr. Yassway (ph.) -- we've got all kinds of material to leave you to that COP, and that is Community --
Q Since people are living in fear in the neighborhood, then -- their homes and just come and live in fear. COP is operated on principles as well that we can draw people together, that, rather than live in fear, you can empower yourself by going out into the community and taking charge. We look at it as a way of -- in the eyes and the ears of the police department, that when they are not there on the spot -- their patrol, we all are on the spot; for, after all, it is our neighborhood.
And through these principles, it kind of has steered
concern to the captain here at the district -- Chief of Police, and even
to the Mayor that -- you hear -- what we're trying to do to not only
just take back to show something has been done, but this principle will
become a way of life, and the way of our children as we, as concerned
citizens, walk the streets; we don't just leave them in a recreational
place, but as we walk in the streets, we walk with them, because
children have to learn how to be responsible when they're our age, and
so when their peers see
them, that they have the nerve and guts and have some dignity about standing up in their neighborhood, they can walk tall, and then we change the criminal minds of others that will follow the children.
Therefore, they become leaders at an early age and I'm willing to say they are the future of our generation as they become grown and then start living their lives. But as they grow up, they become empowered with a sense of principle and have a foundation of love and to share it throughout the community. So we may do this, which is what --
Q Mr. President, it is interesting how Mr. Yassway gets right back to where you were last night in your State of the Union -- the family. You know, what we're doing here is really going to help our community, and it helps our communities become better communities. But we know the base of every community is the family unit. And your remarks last night in the State of the Union were right on point; we need to continue to be mindful that every one of the programs that we promote and encourage gets back to that basic unit of our society.
I was the first to stand last night, was very excited, because maybe we have, as Democrats, allowed ourselves not to be on the right side of the family issue, which is just so absurd, because there is only one side. If we continue these kinds of things Mr. Yassway says with children seeing their parents act in a certain way, the children are going to act in a certain way. Use good grammar at home -- I was lucky, my grandmother and my mother corrected my grammar every day of my life. But, by golly, I end up speaking well. That's the kind of thing we need to get back to, and I'm glad to -- (laughter) --
THE PRESIDENT: I was so afraid you were going to say good. (Laughter.)
Q Mr. President, we have to move on. It's 3:00 p.m. I know the Governor wanted to say something in closing.
Q It's just obvious that these neighborhoods, and I'm sure similar neighborhoods and communities all over the nation want to be safe, and the vast majority of the people are the victims of the crime. And it's obvious that they have to be empowered. They have to do it. This is not something that can be top-down driven, but they have to be empowered. And your leadership on a national level, through the mayor, all the way down to the district police department -- ultimately, it has to come out of the community. It seems like, Mr. Mayor, that you all have developed the right approach. I've been enlightened, as has the President -- I've got to check my grammar here -- and it was enlightening for me to learn the details of this program that I wasn't familiar with. So I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the program.
Q It's good to have you with us, Governor.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just say in closing that -- I want to go back to the last question that I asked. What our goal is, you know, and all of the -- I want to thank the police officers around the table who participated, as well as the citizens -- when I ask is the primary benefit of this system that it helps you catch people quicker when they commit crime so it helps prevent crimes in the first place.
I think in the end it will do both. But the answer of prevention is very important. I mean, we have to get back to a point in our country when the crime is the exception rather than the rule. I mean, and I thought it was so perceptive when you said that some police officers were wondering, well, are they going to turn me into social workers, or is this right or wrong.
We don't want police forces to be occupying armies in our cities. We want them to be skilled, we want them to be able to shoot, we want them to be able to protect themselves, we want them to be able to protect other people. But we should be working toward a goal in America where the crimes are the exception, rather than the rule. We can't be in a position anymore where the fastest growing job category in the United States are prison guards; and where the fastest growing part of the state budget is investing in more prisons. And I say that as a former governor who as built as many prisons, I guess, as anybody on a per capita basis.
And you have to put people in jail, and if they're dangerous you've got to leave them there a long time. But every child that you keep from committing that first armed robbery, from firing that gun the first time, from doing that first drug deal -- every child you do that to, you've done ten times as much than you even do when you make an arrest.
And I think what you see here -- to go back to what the Congressman said -- is that the further you get away from this neighborhood toward Washington, D.C., and the more distance there is between Washington and you, the harder it is to communicate. And so simple messages tend to come through even though they may be wrong. And you say, well, this person says the answer is personal responsibility; and this person says somebody ought to help solve it. And the truth is, the answer is both. The answer is both. And that's what you all have done here. I take my hat off to you. And I've been very moved by what I've heard today and I must say I'm very encouraged. And we'll keep trying to help you and you keep carrying the load and we'll keep cheering.
Q Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)
END 2:38 P.M. EST