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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 9, 1998
        Honoring and Strengthening Our Nation's Law Enforcement
                   The Rose Garden, The White House
                           October 9, 1998

Today, the President will honor this year's "Top Cops"-- an award given by the National Association of Police Organizations to pay tribute to law enforcement officers from across the country for service to their communities during the preceding year. This year, 34 exceptional law enforcement officers from ten jurisdictions will receive the distinguished award. At the event, President Clinton also will announce grants enabling communities to hire more police and states to improve their criminal history records.

Safer Streets: Adding Police and Halting Illegal Handgun Sales

Meeting the President's Pledge of 100,000 More Police. The Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) will award $27.4 million in grants for 151 policing agencies across the country to hire 428 officers. Today's announcement will bring the total number of officers funded under the President's COPS Initiative to over 88,500 --keeping the COPS Initiative ahead of schedule and under budget.

Improving System of Brady Background Checks. The President will announce more than $41 million in Justice Department grants for states to improve their criminal history records, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of the Brady Law's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The grants, provided through the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP), are funded through the President's 1994 Crime Bill. Total grants under this program now exceed $200 million. The President will also reiterate his opposition to efforts in Congress to undermine the effective and timely implementation of NICS which is scheduled to come on-line next month.

New Tools to Support Law Enforcement and Safe Communities

Improving Criminal History Records and Access. The President will announce his intent to sign bipartisan legislation, introduced by Senators DeWine (R-OH) and Leahy (D-VT), to provide $1.25 billion in federal assistance to states over five years to upgrade communications technologies and criminal justice identification systems. The bill also includes an Administration-proposed national compact on the electronic exchange of criminal history records for non-criminal justice purposes, such as employment checks on day care and elder care workers.

President Clinton: A Record of Support for Law Enforcement

Protecting law enforcement from deadly assault weapons. Because criminals should never outgun law enforcement officers, the President's 1994 anti-crime bill banned 19 of the deadliest cop-killing assault weapons. In addition, this spring, the Treasury Department generally banned the importation of more than 50 models of modified assault weapons.

Preventing criminals from buying handguns. In 1993, the President signed the Brady Bill. Since its passage, over 250,000 stalkers, fugitives, and felons have been prevented from buying guns. That means fewer guns on our streets and safer streets for our officers.

Giving the police the protection they deserve. In June 1998, the President signed the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act to provide $75 million in grants to help state and local governments defray the costs of purchasing bulletproof vests.