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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release March 13, 1999

Strengthening Police Integrity

March 13, 1999

In his weekly radio address, President Clinton today announced that he is taking steps to strengthen the integrity and ethics of law enforcement forces and to prevent police misconduct. The President announced that the 21st Century Policing Initiative he will send soon to Congress includes: (1) a $42 million increase in funding for state and local police training, education, and recruitment; and (2) $5 million in new funds to establish citizen police academies that strengthen relations between police officers and community residents. President Clinton also called on the Attorney General to convene a series of meetings with community and law enforcement leaders to discuss these issues further and make appropriate recommendations.

Investing in Better Policing

$20 million to expand police integrity and ethics training. Police today face more difficult and demanding situations than ever before. Although most receive extensive training before their first day on the job, more can be done to ensure that they are well-prepared to meet these challenges. The Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS) has established 30 Regional Community Policing Institutes (RCPIs) throughout the country which have trained more than 10,000 state and local law enforcement officials in a variety of disciplines. Only two of the RCPIs, however, specialize in the area of police integrity and ethics. To expand the availability of this crucial training, the President's 21st Century Policing Initiative will propose a $20 million increase in funding to make police integrity training available at all 30 RCPIs. As a result of this expansion, thousands of police officers each year will receive the training best calculated to prevent instances of police misconduct.

$20 million to promote the best educated police force possible. Better educated police means better policing, which every citizen a stake in ensuring that police officers have the widest possible access to educational opportunities. That is why the President's 21st Century Policing Initiative will include $20 million in new funds to help make college scholarships available to current police officers. The President's crime bill also will reauthorize the Police Corps, which offers young people college scholarships in return for their service as law enforcement officers. Since its creation in the 1994 Crime Act, the Police Corps has provided $90 million in college scholarships to police recruits in 23 states.

$2 million for improved minority recruitment. As we work to better educate and train our police, we must also do more to make sure police departments reflect the diversity of the communities they represent. Last year, the COPS Office awarded $1 million to community organizations to develop targeted police recruitment efforts, including the establishment of police magnet high school programs and partnerships with local colleges. The President's 21st Century Policing Initiative will propose doubling the funds available for such innovative outreach and recruitment initiatives.

Engaging the Community

$5 million to establish citizen police academies. Some police departments have established citizen police academies to strengthen the bonds between law enforcement officers and their communities. In addition to training neighborhood residents on police procedures and improving understanding of how police make decisions, citizen academies can help police learn about the concerns of citizens and engage residents as full partners in crime prevention efforts. The President's crime bill will propose $5 million to establish more citizen police academies around the country to carry out these important activities.

Enforcing the Law

Prosecuting serious misconduct and abuse. Although the vast majority of police officers enforce our laws in a way that is both vigorous and fair, those who break the law must be brought to justice. We cannot allow the few corrupt or abusive police officers to undermine the progress that hundreds of thousands of police officers have worked so hard to achieve. That is why the Administration's Justice Department has prosecuted more than 300 law enforcement officers who have engaged in misconduct, resulting so far in over 200 convictions. In addition, using authority given by the 1994 Crime Act, the Department is conducting several pattern and practice investigations of law enforcement agencies across the country. To ensure that federal prosecutors have all the resources they need to enforce our laws in these cases, the President's FY 2000 budget includes an increase of over $1 million for this purpose.

Continuing the Community Policing Revolution

The President's 21st Century Policing Initiative. To make our communities safer and stronger, we must extend our commitment to community policing. The President's 21st Century Policing Initiative will do this by: helping communities hire up to 50,000 more community police officers; providing law enforcement officers with access to the latest crime-fighting technologies; and engaging the entire community -- from prosecutors, to school officials, to leaders of the faith community -- in the fight against crime.

Finishing the job of putting 100,000 more community police on the street. To date, the President's COPS program has helped cities to hire or redeploy more than 92,000 officers, and increased the number of law enforcement agencies engaged in community policing from hundreds to over 11,000. Through COPS, community policing has spread throughout the country and helped to drive down crime rates for all our people.

Forming New Partnerships

Working together to find new solutions. The President will ask the Attorney General to sponsor a series of meetings and discussions with law enforcement and community leaders to consider additional steps that can be taken to strengthen police integrity and prevent police misconduct -- and to make sure the criminal justice system serves the needs of all Americans.