America's lawyers have a special competence and responsibility to provide leadership in upholding our Constitution and the rule of law. Today many of our cities and communities are addressing themselves to a major problem--a mounting crime wave.
Throughout our history law enforcement has been a local responsibility. It must remain so, for the concept of a centralized police force is repugnant to our national tradition. The challenge of crime and lawlessness will be met when local authorities are supported by a concerned and understanding public and, in appropriate ways, by the Federal Government when they are unable to cope with the problems themselves.
As you know, I consider the war against crime one of the top priority concerns of my Administration. The Safe Streets and Crime Control Act--now being considered by the Congress--would provide needed assistance to local communities to support their law enforcement efforts.
I am encouraged to know that the American Bar Association is focusing on law enforcement as a primary area of its activity. Your eminent organization can spearhead a program of action through State and local bar associations that can assist our States and cities in improving the administration of justice. For the front lines in the war against crime are in the streets and alleys of the local communities across America.
I commend and congratulate the American Bar Association on its timely action.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON
[Mr. Leon Jaworski, Chairman, ABA Special Committee on Crime Prevention and Control, 1155 East 60th Street, Chicago, Illinois]