WHERE THEY STAND
SEPTEMBER 16, 1996
President Clinton's speech on crime and drugs was delivered in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he received the endorsement of the National Fraternal Order of Police.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: The crime rate has come down from four years in a row for the first time in a long time. I'm proud of that. But it's still too high, and we all know it. The hundred thousand new police officers supporting people in the community working together, they're making a difference. We have since 1994, we've already funded about half of those. We have to finish the job. It's a major point of contention in this election, and it's very important. We have put tougher penalties on the books for repeat offenders especially and violent offenders, so the police don't do their work and then see it undone by the laws that are on the books. We don't believe that police should be easily out-gunned by gangs in the street. That's why we took the assault weapons off the street and passed the Brady Bill and while we're against the cop killer bullets. (applause) We passed the "three strikes and you're out" law for people who commit three serious crimes. No more parole. It's working. It's working. We're indicting people, convicting people under it, and it's working. (applause) We expanded the death penalty to include drug kingpins and police killers because I thought it was important and justified in those circumstances.
The 19 assault weapons we took off the street had only one person--one purpose, to kill other people, but a lot of criminals don't have assault weapons, and 60,000 felons, fugitives, and stalkers could not get a handgun because of the Brady Bill. We did the right thing. They were right, they're safer, and we need to stay after it. (applause) We passed the Violence Against Women Act to try to help deal especially with problems of domestic violence. We've also supported zero tolerance for guns and drugs in schools. We supported things like school uniforms and tough truancy laws and curfews. We've supported an effort to mobilize another million Americans to work in citizens groups, to work with local police departments. We got the cellular telephone industry to donate thousands and thousands of cellular phones to help these community neighborhood watch groups support the police. I don't know how many little kids have told me what an impression their DARE officer made on them at the school. We know now that one of the reasons we've got a real problem with youth drug abuse is that going way back to 1990, young people began to get the idea again that this was not dangerous. Well, that's wrong. It's not just illegal; it is dangerous. They can kill children; they can destroy their ability to concentrate. For young women, they can undermine their ability to bear healthy children, and we need everyone in the community supporting law enforcement officers, getting that message out to our children, to every child, no matter where he or she lives. It is important. (applause)
We have--(applause)--Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a four-star general, was appointed to lead our war on drugs after he led our troops South of the border and did so much to keep drugs from coming into America. His strategy is targeted at doing those things which will keep drugs away from our children. We've proposed the largest anti-drug effort in history, and I hope Congress will give us the extra $700 million we asked for so that we can do everything possible to really effectively turn these trends around and make sure that we have drug use going down not just among adults, which it is--it's dropped--cocaine use has dropped by a third among adults in the last four years--we have got to get drug use going down among our children. We can't have these kids out there believing they are not in danger when they are. (applause) And you have to help. (applause) Let me say that in the next four years one thing we have to focus more on is the violence caused by gangs, which is also often related to drug dealing. You--over and over and over again we hear stories of totally innocent children who just happened to be standing on the wrong street corner, happened to be walking in the wrong neighborhood, happened to be going home from school at a bad time, totally innocent children killed because of gang wars. We see kids going into gangs just to protect themselves because they're afraid if they don't, they won't be safe on the street and in their neighborhood, and we have got to break this. Last week in Colorado, I announced a program I'd like to reiterate.
I believe it is very important that we get more states to test prisoners and parolees for drug use and to provide more drug treatment in prisons and revoke parole if people violate it by using drugs. We have a law on the books which says we will help states build prisons if they promise not to let violent criminals out too soon. I propose to amend it to say you also have to give drug testing to parolees. That will keep ‘em straight and keep ‘em from returning. 60 percent of all the heroine and cocaine used in this country, 60 percent of all of it, is used by people who are involved with the criminal justice process right now. We need to help them, but, more important, we need to protect the rest of our kids and our communities by saying parole is a privilege and you can't have it if you go back to drugs. The final point I want to leave with you is this. These people up here are doing everything they can, and unlike a lot of folks, we have shown, we have shown, or rather they have shown, we know how to bring the crime rate down. But they can't do it all by themselves. They need us to support them. I am honored by their support today, and all I can say is to go back to what Sen. Glenn said, if you'll give us fifty more days, we'll give you four more years of making our streets, our homes, our schools safer. Thank you, and God bless you. (applause)