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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 14, 1998
                     REMARKS BY THE VICE PRESIDENT 

                          The Roosevelt Room

10:45 A.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the White House. Sheriff Sullivan, thank you for your kind words and for your wonderful work, not only in Arapahoe County, but also as Chairman of the National Sheriffs' Association.

Attorney General Reno, it's always an honor to be with you, especially in an event like this because, since you came and joined this administration, crime has been in steady retreat all across the United States of America. And we have had a long series of events, here and elsewhere around the country, where we have worked in partnership to give new resources to local law enforcement officers; to create new partnerships at the federal, state and local levels; and to put new tools in the hands of those who are right on the front lines of fighting crime. And the results are really quite remarkable, and we appreciate your great leadership in this battle.

To the other members of the law enforcement community who are here, my thanks to you as well. Associate Attorney General Ray Fisher, we looked at a crime mapping operation out in Los Angeles on one of the many trips that we've made together. Jeremy Travis, Director of the National Institute of Justice; Mayor pro-tem Dan Tonkovich of Vancouver, WA -- one of the many local leaders here. They also include Mayor Charlie Smithgall of Lancaster, PA; Mayor Rudy Garcia of Union City, NJ; Mayor Jim Mathias of Ocean City, MD; Mayor James Grimes of Frederick, MD; Mayor Phillip Yerington of Davenport, IA; Mayor Jay Alperin of Delray Beach, FL.

I also want to acknowledge Joe Brann of the COPS Office and the Justice Department; Joe's done an outstanding job, as I know the Attorney General agrees, in helping to lead our efforts here and Joe, we really appreciate it. This is a great success story for the United States of America. I want to thank the members of the law enforcement community standing behind me, and the others who are gathered here in the audience.

I'm here with the privilege of making two important announcements about our continuing efforts to fight crime, and to fight drugs, and to fight violence, by harnessing the powerful new technologies of the 21st century to meet the oldest threats to our safety and well-being. Just yesterday, we gained new evidence that rising crime rates are no longer a fact of life in America. I mentioned a moment ago, in talking about the Attorney General's leadership, that we have seen a series of good reports of crime declining in the United States.

And according to preliminary crime data released by the FEI, crime rates are continuing to decline for the seventh straight year. This is really good news. And in the first six months of this year, 1998, serious crime fell by another 5 percent, with large reductions in murder and other violent crimes leading the way. And if these trends hold out for the rest of the year, the number of murders will have been cut by almost 1/3 since President Clinton and I took office. That really is good news.

Of course, this dramatic reduction did not happen by accident. First and foremost, it happened because of the uncommon valor by the men and women in blue all across the United States of America. We honor you and we thank you.

It also took a new national crime-fighting strategy, merging together elements that had never before been used in combination -- more community police officers walking the beat, walking sidewalks and establishing relationships with every shopowner, every parent and grandparent, every community leader. Also tougher punishment, to send the signal that swift and certain punishment is going to follow the commission of a crime, and that means locking up repeat offenders for good. They commit such a big percentage of the crimes, when you get a lot of them off the streets for good, well, that accounts for a lot of the reduction right there. And also getting gangs and guns and drugs off the streets.

And then the third element, smarter prevention strategies to give young people constructive alternatives to just standing on the street corner and letting their idle hands become the devil's workshop. We've had a huge commitment to giving our children safe and supervised places to learn and play, especially while their parents are still at work. And we're continuing that, incidentally, with our major after-school initiative, which you're going to be hearing more about.

Well, today we're here to focus on the first part of that three-part strategy -- community policing. With today's announcement, we will have funded the addition of more than 92,000 new community police officers all across the United States of America. In fact, we're under budget and ahead of schedule in meeting our goal of 100,000 police officers added to the beat by the year 2000. We're real excited about that, especially since we can see the tangible difference that's being made in the lives of families and communities across America.

But community policing is about more than just hiring the officers and getting them on the beat. It's also about making sure they have the highest-quality training available, and it's about giving them the 21st century tools and technology that get them out from behind their desks and put them back on the beat, and enable them to use their valuable hours at work fighting crime better and faster.

This new crime-fighting technology really is working all across America. In Los Angeles, police now have laptop computers so they can file reports from their cars and spend less time back in the office and traveling back and forth. I mentioned the trip Ray and I made; officers would routinely spend two to three hours driving all the way back down to headquarters -- I see some of these officers here smiling in recognition of this -- driving back to headquarters, waiting in line, dealing with the bureaucracy, filling out the report, then getting back in their car and driving all the way back to the beat. Instead, now, they sit down in their car, file the report from the car itself and then, right away, they're back out fighting crime, right there where they should be.

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, officers have instant access to databases of criminal records and information on everything from domestic violence to alcohol abuse so that, when they respond to a call, they are better informed and much more effective as a result.

If we want to keep crime rates going down -- and we do -- we have to make sure that law enforcement across the country is able to make the best of all these new advances and use them effectively. And so today I'm proud to announce a major new step toward putting these cutting-edge crime-fighting tools in the hands of our law enforcement officers all across America.

Today we are providing nearly $93 million in brand-new grants to fund new technology in communities all across America to fight crime and keep these crime rates coming down. This is an advance because, with these crucial funds, law enforcement in 44 states can not only fight crime better, they can also redeploy more than 3,700 officers, putting them out in the communities where they can do the most good in cracking down on crime. So it's not only the new community police officers that we're funding; it's also the redeployment of a lot of these officers that are now having to waste -- well, I wouldn't say "waste", but spend too much of their time doing paperwork and dealing with the bureaucracy in their departments.

Let me tell you how some of these COPS MORE grants that I'm announcing today are going to be used. In Guilford County, NC, our grants will fund a computer-aided dispatch system to map crime, deploy officers more quickly and help officers fill out reports on the spot. In New Haven, CT, these funds will help create an automatic vehicle-location system so that dispatchers know exactly how long it will take for police to arrive on the scene when they get a distress call or an emergency.

In Davenport, Bettendorf and Scott County, IA, these grants will enable law enforcement to perform instant background checks without returning to headquarters, again saving critical minutes on the job. And in Sheriff Sullivan's Arapahoe County, CO, these new resources will give investigators new computer workstations so they can electronically file cases with their local DA's office.

I've been especially impressed by the success of what we call "crime mapping" as a crime-fighting tool. It helps police combine real-time information about crime on the streets with the resources to find the criminals and prevent future crime in a highly targeted way. It has been a big success in my home state of Tennessee where, for example, Knoxville police recently used computerized mapping to compare rape locations and the residences of known sex offenders, and they used it ultimately to catch a serial rapist.

And it's also worked in rural communities like McClean County, MO, where it enabled law enforcement to analyze and stop a series of farm burglaries. In fact, the dramatic success of crime mapping has now been documented in this new crime mapping case-studies report, just published by the Justice Department and the Police Executive Research Forum.

Now, the Attorney General is authorizing me to say to all of you and your colleagues around the country today, that any police department that wants instruction in how to use this crime mapping technique will be able to get it from the Justice Department. And I urge all of you to take advantage of it, because this really is an advance.

And, you know, our ability to handle large quantities of complex information and share it with a group of people that all need to know it, and work together in partnership on the basis of that information -- that basic strategy has been used time and again throughout the history of civilization to empower us to make big leaps forward, from the invention of writing to the invention of the printing press and on forward. In the area of crime fighting, you could say that the development of the new, sophisticated versions of crime mapping represents that kind of revolutionary advance in making crime fighting much more effective.

And what they do is, they get all the people who need to know these facts in the same place; give them the same information in a very sophisticated way; their leaders are able to hold everybody accountable for what they do on the basis of that information. And they're able to allocate resources in a very targeted way. They're able to measure the quality of the performance throughout the police department or sheriff's office. And they're able to get the results that they're looking for.

So I really do urge you to get a copy of this, study it and then, if your department is not presently taking advantage of this technique, please contact the Attorney General and the National Institute of Justice. And we will make certain that you and your department get the training necessary to put these techniques into practice.

This special training has already paid off in the communities that have been the pioneers in taking it. And so I'm excited about it, and I urge bordering jurisdictions to use this to coordinate their data collection. When you've got communities that have been bedeviled by these jurisdictional lines -- and I see some heads nodding on that one, too -- where you have different law enforcement agencies and different geographic and political subdivisions -- this technology enables you to hurdle those barriers and foster the kind of seamless cooperation in fighting crime that has eluded some of these multiple and overlapping jurisdictions in the past.

There is a simple reason we're investing in these highly effective, 21st century crime-fighting tools. It is because of our belief that even a single crime in America is one too many. Even a single family threatened by violence is unacceptable. As crime and criminals become more sophisticated, we are committed to giving law enforcement the tools to match them, to defeat them, and to make our communities as safe as they can possibly be.

That's what these new investments are all about. By hiring more community police officers, and by putting powerful new resources into the hands of those police, we will bring the crime rate down even lower and build the stronger, safer future that our families deserve.

Thank you very much, and congratulations. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you.

Q How do you think the vote will go on impeachment in the House and --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Could you start -- I missed the first part of your question, Helen.

Q How do you think the vote will go in the House, on Thursday or Friday, on impeachment? And what are you doing to help the President?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, on the second part, I'm doing anything and everything I can that is appropriate and effective. Now, as for the vote itself, I would like to answer your question this way. I believe it's very unfortunate that the leadership of the House of Representatives has made a decision to reject compromise and force a vote only on impeachment and not give the members of Congress a chance to vote their conscience.

Now, the vast majority of the American people have come to two conclusions about this whole matter. Number one, what the President did was terribly wrong; everybody's in agreement on that. But number two, the American people, by overwhelming majorities, have decided that, notwithstanding that what the President did was wrong, he should not be impeached and removed from office as a result of that. And what they favor instead is censure, to give the President the punishment and the rebuke and the censure that they feel is appropriate in this.

What the leadership of the Congress has done is to prevent any kind of compromise along the lines that the American people want to see and, instead, they threaten to put the country through this long ordeal that would ensue. And it is not the right thing to do. It is not in keeping with the wishes of the American people. It is not following the wisdom of the American people.

And so I would hope that the leadership in the Congress would reconsider; allow this compromise approach that the American people want -- in a bipartisan way. This is not a partisan matter out in the country, incidentally. Republicans, Democrats, independents -- they all have the same view. There ought to be a censure, not impeachment. It is only partisan in the House of Representatives, and the Republican leadership is forcing this rejection of any compromise and forcing this approach that the American people do not want to see.

Q What do you make of their calls that the President resign -- the Republican leaders saying the President should resign and not put the country through this?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, of course that's not going to happen.

Q In realizing that you're about to force a vote and not have censure, what are you going to be doing in the meantime? I mean, it's one thing to hope what you want to do, it's another thing to say what you plan to do.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, anything -- I'll repeat, anything that is appropriate and helpful and effective, I will do.

Q Are you calling legislators yourself?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No. I am not. But I will do anything that's appropriate and effective and I stand ready to do that. Thank you all very much.


Q Why aren't you calling?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: The President doesn't think that's appropriate.


END 11:06 A.M. EST