Richard Nixon photo

Remarks on Signing the District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970

July 29, 1970

Ladies and gentlemen:

I am signing the District of Columbia crime control measure, and in signing this bill you will note that it is a very big bill in terms of number of pages, one of the longest, except for appropriations bills, that I have signed during my term of office.

It is an unprecedented measure, a very strong measure, but it deals with an unprecedented problem.

When we came into office, the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., had one of the highest crime rates in the Nation year after year, and was fast becoming the crime capital of the world. We needed new legislation to deal with the problem. This legislation provides, we believe, the tools absolutely essential for us to stop the rise of crime in Washington and to reverse the trend.

We want to make Washington, D.C., an example of respect for law and of freedom from fear, rather than an example of lawlessness. And we believe that this legislation will help.

I should point out, however, that as I sign this bill, that this is again evidence of what I would say is the poorest batting average of the 91st Congress, the poorest batting average in terms of legislation that has been submitted and acted upon.

I have submitted, over a year ago, 13 major measures in the field of law enforcement. Only one has reached my desk: the one that I have signed today. Still waiting for action are the bills that I have submitted-the measures to deal with organized crime, pornography, narcotics and dangerous drugs, and several others.

It is time for the Congress to have better than a I for 13 batting average.

This is an area that is not partisan. It is one where the problem is national, where people of both parties want action. I hope that this is only the beginning and that before this session ends that the 91st Congress will have a better batting average on this critical national issue than 1 out of 13.

When I go to Denver on Monday to meet with the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, a national meeting, I shall have more to say on this subject, and I hope to mobilize support there from law enforcement officials across the Nation, support for the passage by the Congress of the necessary laws at the Federal level so that we can reverse the tide and the rise of crime in this country.

Note: The President spoke at 10:12 a.m. in his office at the Western White House in San Clemente, Calif.

As enacted, the bill (S. 2601 ) is Public Law 91-358 (84 Stat. 473).

On August 18, 1970, the White House released the transcript of a news briefing by District of Columbia Mayor Walter E. Washington and Gilbert Hahn, Jr., Chairman, District of Columbia Council, on improving the District of Columbia criminal justice system.

Richard Nixon, Remarks on Signing the District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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