Remarks at the Swearing In of Clarence M. Kelley as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Governor Bond, all of the distinguished guests here on the platform, and all of the friends of the new Director of the FBI, Chief Kelley, here in the audience:
I have just come from California, as you know, and I think to put in perspective the nomination, the confirming, and now the swearing in of Chief Kelley as the Director of the FBI, it would be well to point out that we are entering a new era in our foreign relations, and we are entering also a new era in our relations insofar as the United States is concerned toward achieving peace at home.
I was thinking, for example, that when I was meeting with Mr. Brezhnev in California, that for the first time since World War II, the United States has a totally new relationship with the Soviet Union, the other great super power in the world, and with the People's Republic of China, in which one-fourth of all the people in the world live.
This does not mean that that new relationship assures that we will have peace without maintaining a strong national defense and without having a strong foreign policy; but it does mean this: that instead of having continuing confrontation, we are now having negotiation with those who might be our potential opponents in the years ahead. And that means that our children have a better chance for peace, a generation of peace and even longer, than any generation in this century, and for this we can be grateful.
As we think of that new era, too, we can think of the fact that for the first time in 12 years, no Americans are being killed in Vietnam. We have peace in Vietnam. For the first time in 8 years, there are no American prisoners of war held abroad. They are all home in the United States where they belong. And for the first time in over 20 years, no young Americans are being drafted for the armed services. They can go in on a volunteer basis, which is what we want.
These are enormously significant changes as we enter this new era of working toward peace abroad, but they sometimes may obscure the progress we have made in trying to match that to the record of moving toward peace at home.
It is hard at this moment to realize that just 5 years ago, many of the cities of this country were in flames; that just 5 years ago, we were looking back on a period of the sixties in which crime had doubled and was continuing to escalate. Five years ago, we were looking back on a period in which the use of dangerous drugs continued to escalate without an adequate program to fight that great danger, a danger particularly to the young people of this country.
And we find that today we have not conquered those problems, just as we have not assured that we are going to have peace in the years ahead abroad, because working for peace is a constant responsibility of all of us in positions of responsibility, whether it is abroad or at home.
But today we can look at the record, and we can say, as we look, particularly, at our colleges and universities, that this last academic year was the first one in 8 years that we did not have destruction and violence on those campuses and universities.
We can look back, too, and see that in the last year, for the first time in 15 years, we found crime in this country, street crimes that affect the people of Kansas City and every city and town in this country, instead of going up, went down, and that is something we want to continue to achieve in the years ahead.
And we found that in this last year, while we have not completely conquered, and of course, we never will, the problem of dangerous drugs, that we have made more progress in that area than has been made in the last 15 years.
And that brings us to the man who has just been sworn in as the Director of the FBI. To find the man to move into that position after the many, many years that Mr. Hoover had served in it was a difficult task. We tried to find the very best man in the country.
I remember that one day I called General Haig into my office, when we had a list of candidates, and I said, "I remember a police chief I met in Kansas City. I only met him for a few moments when I went out to visit a hospital where two policemen were recovering from injuries suffered in the line of duty." I said, "I don't know his background, but some way, I like the cut of his jib. He is a strong man. Look into it."
And when we looked into him and compared this man's qualifications with the 96 other top-flight people in law enforcement, he came out at the top of the list, and I want to tell you why.
He came out at the top of the list first because he is from the FBI; he knows it--21 years, a whole generation of distinguished service in the FBI. So, the men of the FBI know that they have one of their own, one who understands their problems, one whom they can respect.
And second, he had another qualification that in this period when the FBI is moving more and more into providing leadership in the field of helping local law enforcement officials deal with the problem of crime: He had I e years of distinguished service as the chief of police of Kansas City. And in that respect, I should point out to you ladies and gentlemen that before the national trend began to turn downward insofar as street crime across this country is concerned, Kansas City led the way with one of the best records of any major city in the country, and this man did it.
But there was another quality that I have learned about this man that perhaps even is more important than the others. He is a top-flight professional, but many of the other candidates were. He is a top-flight FBI graduate; some of the other candidates were. But above all, when you select a man for a top position, you must feel the person himself--what is his quality, what is his character--and Chief Kelley, first, is a fine family man. Second, he is a man who has a deep faith in his religion. And third, he is a man of enormous personal strength and character. He is a good man, and that is the kind of a man we want in the FBI.
I have often said, and I have visited most of the countries of the world, that the best national law enforcement agency in the world is the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is still the best. And second, I will say that the best national law enforcement agency in the world deserves the best law enforcement officer in the world as its Director.
Ladies and gentlemen, Chief Kelley is that man, and he is going to demonstrate that to the country.
Now a word, if I may, to the people of Kansas City--this city that is proud of all its "Chiefs,"1 as I know--to the people of Kansas City, I know that you have suffered a great loss, but a good man will take his place. I can only say that Kansas City's loss is America's gain, and I will say finally, that a man who has been good for Kansas City will be very good for America.
1 Kansas City Chiefs professional football team.
Note: The President spoke at 1:45 p.m. in front of the Federal Building in Kansas City, Mo.
William Becker, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, administered the oath of office to Director Kelley.
Richard Nixon, Remarks at the Swearing In of Clarence M. Kelley as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/255618