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Lyndon B. Johnson: Special Message to the Congress on Crime in America.
Lyndon
Lyndon B. Johnson
35 - Special Message to the Congress on Crime in America.
February 6, 1967
Public Papers of the Presidents
Lyndon B. Johnson<br>1967: Book I
Lyndon B. Johnson
1967: Book I
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To the Congress of the United States:

THE BACKGROUND

In the past three years, I have sent to the Congress many special messages on the human problems of our time. I have asked for legislation to improve the education, health, and economic opportunities of our people, and to enrich the physical environment in which we live.

Twice before I have spoken of the problem of crime because crime--like poverty, disease and ignorance--is a major social problem that directly or indirectly affects every American life.

In our democracy, the principal responsibility for dealing with crime does not lie with the national government, but with the states and local communities.

The same is true of education and public health. Yet as the Federal government has accepted a substantial responsibility in those fields--augmenting state and local efforts--it has also begun to pay increased attention to its role in the control of crime. For, better education, better health and better jobs are essentials--but they are only part of our national task.

Public order is the first business of government.

When public order breaks down, when men and women are afraid to use the public streets, their confidence is seriously shaken. When hundreds of thousands of young people enter adulthood carrying the burden of police records, when contempt and mistrust too often characterize public attitudes toward lawful authority, all--young and old, private citizens and public officials--suffer the consequences.

Lawlessness is like a plague. Its costs, whether economic, physical or psychological, are spread through every alley and every street in every neighborhood. It creates a climate in which people make choices, not out of confidence, but out of fear.

Recently, a survey made in high crime areas of two of our largest cities found that:

--43 percent of those interviewed stayed off the streets at night.

--35 percent did not speak to strangers.

--21 percent used only cabs and cars at night.

--20 percent would like to move to another neighborhood. All because of their fear of crime.

Whether these citizens had ever been victimized by a criminal, or had even witnessed a major crime, their fear of crime had effectively narrowed the scope of their lives--denying them pleasure, opportunity, and a sense of peace. For them, and for all of us, crime--and the fear of crime--has become a public malady. Its extent and gravity may be subjects for debate. But its existence is certain. So is our duty to seek its cure with every means at our command.

As I said in my State of the Union Message: "At the heart of this attack on crime must be the conviction that a free America--as Abraham Lincoln once said--must 'let reverence for the laws... become the political religion of the Nation.'

"Our country's laws must be respected. Order must be maintained. I will support--with all the constitutional powers the President possesses--our Nation's law enforcement officials in their attempt to control the crime and violence that tear the fabric of our communities."

THE NATIONAL CRIME COMMISSION REPORT

Two weeks ago I received the report of the National Crime Commission, which I appointed in July 1965, to make the most comprehensive study of crime in the history of our country. That report is now being printed and will be available shortly.

It gives us an extraordinary insight into the nature of crime and criminal justice in America.

It cannot be summarized in a few paragraphs, but several of its findings give us some measure of our task:

--Over 7 million people each year come into contact with one of the agencies of criminal justice in America. More than 400,000 are confined on any one day in correctional institutions.

--The cost of operating correctional services alone is $1 billion a year.

--Crime's cost to the economy is staggering. Property losses approach $3 billion a year. In many stores the cost of shoplifting and employee pilfering is as high as--in some cases, higher than--the profit margin. The economic cost of white collar crime--embezzlement, petty theft from businesses, consumer frauds, anti-trust violations and the like--dwarfs that of all crimes of violence.

--A great deal of crime is never reported to the police. Probably more than twice as many aggravated assaults, burglaries, and larcenies occur, as are reported. In some communities the figure may be 10 times as high.

--The incidence of crime is highest in the 15 to 21 age group. 15-year olds commit more of the serious crimes than any other age group, with 16-year olds dose behind. More than fifty percent of arrests for burglaries are of youths under 18.

--Most crimes of violence are committed by and against people who know each other.

--Those who commit crimes of violence more commonly do so against members of their own race. Relatively few major crimes are interracial.

Six principal themes run through the Crime Commission report:

1. Crime prevention is of paramount importance.

Prevention of crime means equipping police forces to respond quickly to emergency calls. It means reducing crime opportunities: from theft-proof ignition systems for cars, to stricter controls on the sale of guns, from better street lights and modern alarm systems to tactical deployment of police forces in high crime areas.

But crime prevention also means elimination of the conditions which breed crime. In the words of the Crime Commission, "there is no doubt whatever that the most significant action, by far, that can' be taken against crime is action designed to eliminate slums and ghettos, to improve education, to provide jobs, to make sure that every American is given the opportunities and the freedoms that will enable him to assume his responsibilities. We will not have dealt effectively with crime until we have alleviated the conditions that stimulate it. To speak of controlling crime only in terms of the work of the police, the courts and the correctional apparatus alone, is to refuse to face the fact that widespread crime implies a widespread failure by society as a whole." a. The system of criminal justice must itself be just and it must have the respect and cooperation of all citizens.

So long as perfunctory, mass-production methods prevail in many lower courts, so long as scandalous conditions exist in many jails--where, in 1965, 100,000 children were held in adult jails, and where attempts to rehabilitate are almost non-existent--we cannot achieve full public confidence in the system of criminal justice.

What is required of that system is a profound self-analysis, the willingness to change, and a massive effort to:

--Improve the caliber and training of enforcement, judicial and officials.

--Strengthen the capability of police detect crimes and apprehend commit them.

--Extend the range and quality of treatment services.

--Make full use of advanced scientific methods in the courtroom, to reduce frustrating and unfair delays and to make available to the sentencing judge all necessary information about the defendant.

--provide better counsel for juveniles and for adults who cannot afford to provide their own.

--Improve communication and understanding between law enforcement authorities and the urban poor.

So long as we deny police, courts and correctional agencies the resources they need to provide fair and dignified public service, large elements of our population will challenge both the institutions of justice and the values they represent.

What is required of citizens in every community in America is an understanding, not only of the critical importance of first-rate law enforcement, but also of the difficulties under which their police, judges, and corrections officials labor today. If local citizens are prepared to cooperate with their own system of justice and to support it with the resources it needs to discharge its duty, those difficulties can be substantially reduced.

3. Throughout the criminal justice system, better-trained people are desperately needed and they must be more effectively used.

The Crime Commission found that current personnel practices in most jurisdictions often fail to attract high-caliber men and women. Requiring each new police officer to begin his career as a patrolman makes the lateral entry of better-qualified men almost impossible. There are today few means of tapping the special knowledge and skills of those brought up in slums. Today's single, rigid line of police promotion and service is inefficient. Critical shortages of specially trained policemen, probation and parole officers, teachers, caseworkers, vocational instructors, and group counselors are severely weakening the criminal justice system.

There are many ways to attack this problem. Some police chiefs suggested to the Crime Commission that many police forces could be restructured, to provide for

--Uniformed "community service officers", who would maintain dose relations with people in their areas and be alert to potentially dangerous conditions that should be brought to the attention of other city agencies for prompt action. These officers might not meet conventional educational requirements. They might even have had minor encounters with the law as teenagers. But they would know their areas and the people who live in them.

--Police officers, who would perform the traditional police patrol duties. Typically these officers would have graduated from high school.

--Police agents, who would take on the most sensitive and complex police assignments-patrolling in the highest crime neighborhoods, staff duties, police-community relations, solving the most difficult serious criminal cases. Two years of college, and preferably a baccalaureate degree, might be required for assignment as an agent.

--Entrance into police service at any one of these three levels, or opportunities to work their way up through the different levels as basic education and other qualifications were met.

4. A far broader--and more profound-range of treatment is needed than the present correctional system provides.

This applies to offenders of all ages, but it is especially true--and particularly important for the young. Since the generation of children about to enter teen-age is the largest in our history, we can anticipate an even sharper rise in juvenile delinquency in the decade to come--unless we make drastic changes in the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, as well as in economic and social conditions.

Many offenders, the young most of all, stand a far better chance of being rehabilitated in their home communities, than in ordinary confinement. Recently the California Youth Authority concluded a 5-year experiment with various methods of treatment. Convicted juvenile delinquents were assigned on a random basis either to an experimental group where they were returned to their communities for intensive personal and family counseling, or to the regular institutions of correction. The findings to date are dramatically impressive:

--Only 28 percent of the experimental group had their paroles revoked.

--More than half--52 percent--of those confined in regular institutions later had their paroles revoked.

Falling back into crime was almost twice as great for those treated in regular institutions, as for those treated in the community. And it appears that the community treatment program costs far less than institutional confinement.

On the basis of this California experiment and its other studies, the Crime Commission concludes that local institutions related to the community, each housing as few as 50 inmates, and supported by a wide range of treatment services, should be developed throughout the country.

This will require the commitment of new resources by most communities. In a recent survey of juvenile court judges, 83 percent said that no psychologist or psychiatrist was available to their courts. A full third had neither probation officers nor social workers. Further, if many young offenders are better handled by community agencies other than juvenile courts, the potential of those agencies must be enlarged and fully tapped.

5. Access to better information and to deeper and broader research is vital to police and correctional agencies.

The Crime Commission found little research being done on the fundamental issues of criminal justice--for example, on the effect of punishment in deterring crime, or on the effectiveness of various police and correctional procedures.

Private research can be valuable. More state and local operations research is essential. Regional institutes for research should be established. Improved collection, dissemination and analysis of criminal justice statistics is essential for deeper insights into the causes of crime, its prevention and control, and better probation and correction programs. State and city planning would benefit from sounder and more precise predictions of future crime levels and problems.

6. Substantially greater resources must be devoted to improving the entire criminal justice system.

The Federal government must not and will not try to dominate the system. It could not if it tried. Our system of law enforcement is essentially local: based upon local initiative, generated by local energies and controlled by local officials. But the Federal government must help to strengthen the system, and to encourage the kind of innovations needed to respond to the problem of crime in America.

THE SAFE STREETS AND CRIME CONTROL

ACT OF 1967

I recommend that the Congress enact the Safe Streets and Crime Control Act off 1967 to:

--Provide planning and program grants to states and local governments.

--Establish, in the Department of Justice, a Director of a new Office of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Assistance. The agency he heads will be a cooperative link with state and local agencies of criminal justice. It will give us the practical means of assisting and encouraging modernization throughout the system. It will operate the grant program established under the Act, and focus research on the causes, prevention, and control of crime.

I am requesting $50 million in fiscal 1968 under the Safe Streets and Crime Control Act, largely for planning grants, research and pilot projects. Our best estimate is that the Federal investment under this Act in the second year will be approximately $300 million. The Federal investment beyond the second year will depend upon the effective response of state and local governments.

I recommend Federal grants of up to 90 percent to states, cities and regional and metropolitan bodies to assist them to develop plans to improve their police, courts, and correctional systems.

Through these grants, we intend to encourage comprehensive approaches to the problems of crime. The close inter-locking of every element in the criminal justice system makes comprehensive planning mandatory.

To illustrate: the Crime Commission recommends that drunkenness should be regarded as a criminal offense only when it is accompanied by disorderly conduct. Today, one-third of all arrests are for drunkenness. Two million arrests for drunkenness burden the police, clog the lower courts and crowd places of detention. If, instead of treating drunkenness as an ordinary crime, local authorities chose to create a civil de-toxification program, the consequences of that choice would be felt throughout the law enforcement and corrections system.

Almost any reform of this nature will have significant secondary effects. Treating each reform as an isolated matter will create conflicts and loss of effectiveness throughout the system. Thus, the grants under this provision will require that comprehensive plans be developed that take into account the interrelationship among all aspects of law enforcement, courts and corrections, as well as closely related social 'programs.

I recommend Federal grants of up to 60 percent to support approved programs in action.

These grants would encourage innovative efforts against street crime, juvenile delinquency, and organized crime.

To be eligible, the state or local governing body--or bodies--must show an increase in its own expenditures by an annual increment of 5 percent. The 60 percent grant would be applied against the cost of the program in excess of that increment. It must also show that it has adopted a comprehensive plan, containing clear priorities and balancing the needs of all parts of the criminal justice system.

Some of the local and regional programs that might qualify for grants would provide:

--Better training for criminal justice personnel.

--Various innovative techniques, such as tactical squads, special street lighting, new public alarm systems.

--More effective alarm systems.

--Two-way radio and multiple-channel police networks.

--Coordinated information systems for all law and corrections officials.

--New rehabilitation techniques and the personnel to employ them.

--Salaries for criminal justice personnel where associated with special training or innovative programs. With respect to other criminal justice personnel not engaged in such programs, up to, but not more than--one-third of the Federal grant may be used for salaries.

To be approved, a plan must meet a number of qualifying tests. Among them, the plan must:

--Apply to a jurisdiction, or combination of jurisdictions, with a population of at least 50,000 persons.

--Deal with all law enforcement and criminal justice agencies in the area covered by the plan, unless the Attorney General determines that it is not practicable to do so.

--Set forth priorities for the improvement of all aspects of law enforcement and criminal justice affected by the plan, based upon the identification of needs and problems.

--Incorporate innovations and advanced techniques.

--Demonstrate the willingness of state or local bodies to assume the costs of improved law enforcement and criminal justice systems after a reasonable period of Federal assistance. I recommend Federal grants of up to 50 percent for the construction of significant new types of physical facilities, on a regional or metropolitan basis, such as: --crime laboratories, --community correction centers, --police academy-type centers.

RESEARCH AND SPECIAL PROJECTS

Under the Law Enforcement Assistance Act of 1965, we have conducted a program to improve the techniques of law enforcement through research and pilot projects. This program has proved its value. Research, along with pilot projects, must be vigorously supported if we are to improve the criminal justice system.

As part of a broader crime control program, I propose superseding the Law Enforcement Assistance Act with a broader program of research, development and special pilot project grants.

I recommend that the Safe Streets and Crime Control Act authorize the Attorney General to mat(e research grants or contracts, of up to 100 percent, with public agencies, institutions of higher education, or other organizations.

These grants could be used to:

--Support research and education projects of regional or national importance.

--Establish national or regional institutes for research and education in law enforcement and criminal justice.

FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL COOPERATION

State and local governments have already shown their willingness to meet their responsibilities in the criminal justice area. They have also demonstrated their desire to cooperate with the national government. During 1966, for example, the Department of Justice and the National Crime Commission have urged all 50 governors to establish state planning committees on law enforcement and criminal justice. Many of these committees are already in existence. Additional states are setting up committees each month.

To continue this cooperation, I am directing the Acting Attorney General to convene at the Justice Department a conference of state, city and private authorities in law enforcement and criminal justice. Its purpose will be to review the findings of the National Crime Commission and to share judgments on how best the Federal government may contribute to the essentially State and local task of law enforcement.

A PROGRAM FOR YOUNG AMERICANS

The proposals I have outlined above will give new strength to the instruments of law enforcement: our police, courts, and correctional agencies. Yet we know that America's crime problem demands far broader efforts to reach young people trapped in poverty-without skills, without purpose, without hope.

Not all crime is attributable to poverty. The rise of crimes committed by youth in affluent suburban areas testifies to that. But crime rates do increase markedly in an atmosphere that breeds hostility and frustration. They increase as the channels of opportunity are limited and social mobility is foreclosed.

Understanding this, we have embarked on a broad range of programs giving disadvantaged young people the chance to break free of the waste and boredom that would otherwise characterize their lives. In my message to the Congress on America's Children and Youth, which I intend to submit shortly, I will outline a program for young Americans. The purpose of that program will be not only to reduce delinquency, but to increase the chances for young people to lead more useful and productive lives.

NARCOTICS AND DANGEROUS DRUGS

I urge the Congress should also give prompt attention to a number of other aspects of America's crime problem. Among these is narcotics addiction.

Narcotics addiction, the abuse of dangerous drugs and illicit traffic in both continue to challenge the best efforts of federal, state and local governments to stamp them out. Their cost in wasted lives is incalculable. The crime that is associated with them is a serious threat to communities across America.

In the past three years, we have begun new federal and state programs. These programs can lead to a marked improvement in the drug abuse problem. But if their promise is to be sustained, we must make a sufficient commitment of resources and competent administration.

Every level of government, federal to local, must intensify its attack on the narcotics and drug problem.

For our own part, we shall take these additional measures to combat drug addiction and traffic in drugs:

1. Rehabilitation

To carry out the purposes of the Narcotic .Addict Rehabilitation Act of 1966, I am instructing the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, to coordinate the rehabilitation efforts of all the federal agencies concerned, and to work through local and state facilities to the greatest possible extent. Federal rehabilitation efforts will be closely related to local programs that may qualify for federal support under the grant provisions of the Safe Streets and Crime Control Act of 1967. 2. Enforcement Training

I recommend that the Congress provide funds to enable the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the Food and Drug Administration to enlarge their existing enforcement training programs, so that they can reach a far greater number of local and state enforcement officers.

Under these programs, enforcement officers and experts of the Federal government are sent to local communities with severe drug addiction problems, to train local enforcement personnel in the most modern techniques of detecting and apprehending drug pushers and addicts and the most advanced methods of treating drug addiction.

3. Public Information and Education

It is essential that the public be better informed about narcotics and dangerous drugs: what they are, what their effects are on the body and mind, how widely they are misused, the laws which govern them, and the medical treatment that offers the best chance of cure. This information should be made available to local governments, school systems, parents, young people, college campuses and medical groups.

To this end, I am directing the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare to create an Information and Education Center on Narcotic and Dangerous Drugs.

4 International Control

If we are to succeed in controlling narcotics and dangerous drugs, we must work in concert with other nations. Most illicit narcotics-particularly heroin--come from and through other nations to our shores. Drugs, like epidemic diseases, must be controlled effectively everywhere.

I shall shortly submit to the Senate, for its advice and consent, the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Fifty-four nations have acceded to that Convention, and we believe that other nations may follow. With the coming establishment of the International Narcotics Control Board as the only supervisory international agency, our accession to the Convention will allow us to have a proper voice in securing fulfillment by other countries of their treaty obligations.

5. State Drug Laws

There are large disparities in state laws dealing with dangerous drugs. Some states do not even have such laws. Controlling traffic in dangerous drugs requires a careful synthesis of state and federal regulation. If our greatest strength is to be brought to bear on drug control, the states should act as soon as possible on the type of drug abuse control act now being circulated in model form by the Food and Drug Administration. I urge the states to enact this law as soon as possible.

FIREARMS CONTROL

Any effective crime control program requires the enactment of firearms legislation. The National Crime Commission has underscored the emphatic need for the legislation I propose again this year. I urge the 90th Congress to place it high on its agenda in this session.

The legislation I am submitting is closely comparable in substance to that which was under consideration in the last Congress. I strongly recommend that the Congress enact legislation to:

--Prohibit certain mail order sales and shipments of firearms, except between federal licensees;

--Prohibit over-the-counter sales of firearms, other than rifles and shotguns, to any person who does not reside in the state in which the federal licensee does business;

--Prohibit federal licensees from selling handguns to any person under 21, and from selling rifles and shotguns to any person under 18;

--Curb imports into the United States of surplus military firearms and other firearms not suitable for sporting purposes. This legislation is no panacea for the danger of human irrationality and violence in our society. But it will help to keep lethal weapons out of the wrong hands.

This legislation will not curtail ownership of firearms used either for sport or selfprotection. But it will place a valuable restraint on random trade in handguns--the use of which has more and more characterized burglaries and other crimes. It will gain added strength as states pass firearms legislation and licensing laws similar to the Sullivan Law in New York.1

1 McKinney's Consolidated Laws of New York (Title 39, sec. 400).

To pass strict firearms control laws at every level of government is an act of simple prudence and a measure of a civilized society. Further delay is unconscionable.

UNIFIED FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL SYSTEM

I renew my request for legislation to establish a unified federal correctional system within the Department of Justice.

Today, correctional treatment in the national system is fragmented and often impedes continuity of treatment. The proposed unified system would provide coherent organization, and a systematic flow of all post-sentencing responsibilities--probation, institutional management, and parole supervision.

A unified system becomes especially important as we gain experience with community treatment and work-release methods. It would permit the better use of staff and fiscal resources, improve training for all federal correctional employees, and simplify the creation of computerized data banks. The Federal government should lead in all organizational reforms which permit more effective diagnosis and treatment of individual offenders--especially since the repeated offender is so prominent and disturbing a feature of crime in America.

A FEDERAL JUDICIAL CENTER

I recommend legislation to establish a Federal Judicial Center in the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.

Despite the increase in the number of Federal district judgeships--from 197 in 1941 to 341 in 1966--the delay and docket congestion in our Federal courts is the worst in our history.

The mere addition of judges to the courts will not bring about the efficient administration of justice that simple justice demands. Better judicial administration requires better research, better training and continuing education programs.

The Judicial Conference has long recognized this. It has either recommended, or established on an ad hoc basis, some twenty different programs of research and education. Yet none of these programs has been adequately staffed or supported. None has been able to solve the administrative problems of the judiciary.

If we are to reduce the backlog of cases pending in the courts and meet the urgent law enforcement problems we face, these programs must be given permanence and sufficient means to accomplish their tasks. They should be open to the scrutiny of the Congress, the entire judiciary, and the public.

A Federal Judicial Center, established in 'the Administrative Office of the United • States Courts, will enable the courts to begin the kind of self-analysis, research and planning necessary for a more effective judicial system--and for better justice in America.

ORGANIZED CRIME

We have accomplished much in exposing 'the citadels of crime and corruption. I am determined, however, to extend our efforts to root out this poisonous element from our society.

The Department of Justice will be the focal point for bringing increased federal resources to bear on this problem of organized crime. We will increase the number of personnel previously assigned to this task.

Federal efforts can best be extended by the allocation of additional resources. However, obtaining witnesses is a major difficulty in dealing with organized crime.

I recommend that the Congress enact legislation to:

--Make it a federal crime to coerce or threaten a person who is willing to give vital information to our federal investigators, thus extending additional protection to potential witnesses at the beginning of an organized crime investigation before a grand jury has been convened.

--Extend federal immunity provisions to certain crimes associated with racketeering, in order to assist in gathering competent evidence.

Criminal syndicates do not recognize state boundaries. Their impact is frequently nation-wide. The Federal government's responsibility in combatting organized crime is clear and unequivocal.

This message, however, deals principally with federal assistance to state and local law enforcement. With a few notable exceptions, State and local jurisdictions have little experience in operating an effective organized crime program. I am directing the Acting Attorney General to: Establish a special program to offer state and city officials assistance in setting up effective plans to combat organized crime.

THE RIGHT OF PRIVACY

Justice Brandeis called the right of privacy the "right most valued by civilized men."

It is the first right denied by any totalitarian system. It is associated in the minds of most Americans with the right to be free of unlawful searches and forced self-incrimination. It is a hallmark of a free society.

I believe we should protect that right against invasion by wiretapping and electronic devices.

We would indeed be indifferent to the command of our heritage if we failed to take effective action to preserve the dignity and privacy of each among us. A new Federal law banning wiretapping and electronic bugging and snooping is essential.

Present laws are clearly inadequate. They create serious uncertainties in their application and leave large loopholes in their coverage. In short, they invite abuse.

I recommend that the Congress enact the Right of Privacy Act of 1967.

Within the full reach of the constitutional powers possessed by the Federal government this law would:

--Outlaw all wiretapping, public and private, wherever and whenever it occurs, as well as all willful invasions of privacy by electronic devices such as radio transmitters and concealed microphones. The only exceptions would cover those instances where the security of the Nation itself is at stake--and then only under the strictest safeguards.

--Prohibit the advertisement, manufacture or distribution in interstate commerce of wiretapping and eavesdrop ping devices.

TO INSURE THE PUBLIC SAFETY

The program I have called for in this message will not, of itself, bring about a sudden decline in the reported crime rate.

As crime reporting improves, as citizens increasingly demand the protection to which they are entitled and report crimes they formerly bore in silence, as larger numbers of young people enter the age of greatest susceptibility to crime, as the problems of the ghetto are compounded--as these events continue to occur, the reported crime rate will continue to rise.

Nevertheless, there are important steps we can take now to affect the incidence of crime and its contamination of our democracy. I have tried to describe several in this message.

Certain of these steps could, if resolutely undertaken by local and national officials, be in effect a year from today.

Other steps, put into effect now, could reduce the costs of crime over the next several years. These involve more than the condemnation of crime, more than spasmodic responses to sensational disclosures. They involve hard work and an unswerving commitment by all levels of government to an intensified, long-term program of action.

Yet even they will fail unless they are accompanied by the greater involvement of private citizens.

It is the citizen who will finally determine whether the agencies of law enforcement and criminal justice are staffed and nourished by first-rate skills and modern equipment. It is the citizen who maintains and enlarges respect for law and order. It is the interaction of the citizen and the community-their common dedication to public order--which is the most powerful deterrent of crime.

Thus, it is the citizen who will determine whether streets will be safe to walk, whether homes will be secure, whether property rights will be respected, whether integrity and honest dealing will govern relationships between men.

We can control crime if we will. We must act boldly, now, to treat ancient evils and to insure the public safety.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON
The White House
February 6, 1967


Note: For statements by the President upon signing related legislation see Items 468, 560. See also Item 530.

For a statement by the President concerning the report of the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, see Item 60.


Citation: Lyndon B. Johnson: "Special Message to the Congress on Crime in America.," February 6, 1967. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=28394.
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