Remarks on Community Policing in Jamaica, New York
Thank you very much. Mr. Mayor, Commissioner, Congressman Nadler, Congresswoman Maloney, thank you for being here. And I want to thank our Associate Attorney General, Ray Fisher, for coming up with me today.
Let me say that, first, I want to congratulate all the men and women in the police force in New York City, the ones who are standing behind me, the ones who are out there in the audience, and the ones who are out there on the beat. There has been an amazing turnaround in America's fight against crime in the last few years. It has basically been brought about with a new philosophy rooted in community police officers, better prevention, smarter and tougher punishment.
The mayor and I have shared that philosophy. He and many others in both parties worked hard for the passage of the crime bill in 1994. And it was a fascinating debate I'll never forget as long as I live. Because the crime bill was essentially written by law enforcement officials— I see Tom nodding his head—grassroots law enforcement officials across America, there was an astonishing amount of unanimity about it among Republicans and Democrats at the grassroots level. The only political problems we had with the crime bill were those that were basically occasioned, frankly, by the NRA and others when we got to supplementing rhetoric over reality at the debate of the crime bill. But now the evidence is in, and we know who was right and who wasn't.
The efforts embodied in the crime bill and the policies of cities all across America have brought the crime rate down to a 25-year low. That's an astonishing achievement. In the last 5 years alone, there's been a 22 percent drop in the murder rate nationwide, a 16 percent drop in the rate of violent crime. In neighborhoods where children couldn't walk to school alone, where elderly people double-locked themselves in their homes, people are beginning to feel confident and safe again. And community policing is at the heart of the new philosophy. It has done more to bring the crime rate down than anything else—the proper, wise deployment of police resources in a community fashion to prevent crime and to catch criminals.
Since the crime bill passed, we've come a long way toward putting our goal of 100,000 police on the street. You heard the mayor say how many there were in New York City. We have to finish the job, however. We're about two-thirds of the way there, since 1994. We've funded about 67,000 police officers.
Today I'm pleased to announce that we are going to help New York City hire and deploy 1,600 more community police officers. With the new police officers, we now helped to fund more than 70,000 of the 100,000 community police across America. And I want you to know we intend to keep going until we've got all 100,000 on the beat. We want to get it done ahead of schedule. In the big cities like New York where the problems of crime and drugs and guns once seemed absolutely insurmountable, real progress has been made.
Now, there's still a lot to do. The mayor talked about the drug problem. Our budget coming up has more funds for drug education, drug prevention, and drug treatment. I issued an Executive order just a couple of days ago relating to drug treatment in the State penitentiaries of the country.
The New York Times reported today that some cities, particularly smaller cities, are still struggling, cities that never felt the kind of problems you came to take for granted or at least— not for granted—at least a part of your daily life before, and perhaps aren't as well equipped as you are to handle them. We have more to do to clean up our cities, to get more guns and gangs and drugs off the streets, and more police officers on the streets. But if we keep going we'll get the job done.
I'd also like to say, we all know that we have an unresolved problem with crime by young people, juveniles. While that rate seems to be dropping now, it has not gone down nearly as much as the overall crime rate. And I'm convinced we have to do more to deal with these young people in the hours where most of this crime is committed, which is after school but before their folks get home. We're committed to working hard with our cities to help to deal with that.
So today is a good day. Hundreds of more police officers from New York City—it means a lower crime rate for a city that has proved that the police can do the job, given the kind of community support we need and the kind of farsighted policies that I think we have to pursue together as Americans.
So thank you, Mayor. Thank you, Commissioner. Thanks to the Members of Congress. And my thanks to the people in the police department.
Thank you very much.
NOTE: The President spoke at 5:05 p.m. in the press room in Port Authority Building #14 at John F. Kennedy International Airport. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir of New York City, and Thomas J. Scotto, president, National Association of Police Organizations. He also referred to his memorandum of January 12 on ending drug use and drug availability for offenders.
William J. Clinton, Remarks on Community Policing in Jamaica, New York Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/225957