Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Special Message to the Congress on Crime and Law Enforcement: "To Insure the Public Safety."

February 07, 1968

To the Congress of the United States:

To meet the challenge of crime to our society, I propose the following program of action for our Nation:

For our Governors and Mayors:

1. The Governors of our States and the Mayors of our Cities should examine their local situations--to make certain that they have the necessary laws in effect, that they are committing sufficient resources to their entire systems of criminal justice, and that they have efficient, well-trained and fully supported police departments and law enforcement agencies.

For the Congress and the Executive Branch of the Federal Government:

2. Prompt passage of the Safe Streets and Crime Control Act which I proposed last year.

3. A major Federal assistance program to provide educational opportunities and more training for the Nation's law enforcement personnel.

4. Appropriation of $100 million for the Safe Streets Act in fiscal 1969, double the amount I proposed last year.

5. Passage of the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act.

6. Enactment of an Alcoholism Rehabilitation Act, to help provide more effective treatment--rather than simple detention--of alcoholics.

7. Coordination of the Federal anticrime effort under the Attorney General.

8. Establishment of a strong and unified United States Corrections Service within the Department of Justice.

9. In the fight against drug abuse,

--Legislation to make the illegal manufacture, sale and distribution of LSD and other dangerous drugs a felony, and possession a misdemeanor.

--A more than 30 percent increase in the number of agents enforcing our narcotics and dangerous drug laws.

--That the National Commission on Reform of Federal Criminal Laws undertake immediately a full-scale review of these laws.

--A step-up in our research, education, manpower training and rehabilitation efforts.

--Transfer to the Department of Justice the functions of the Bureau of Narcotics from the Treasury, and the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

10. A felony law aimed at those who cross state lines to incite and take part in riots.

11. In the fight against organized crime, top priority for the Justice Department's Strike Forces in cities beset by racketeering.

12. New laws to enhance the Federal attack on big-time gambling.

13. Immunity legislation to compel the giving of testimony concerning activities linked with organized crime.

14. Legislation to permit the Government to appeal a pretrial court order granting a motion to suppress evidence.

15. Passage of effective gun control legislation.

16. Funds for 100 additional Assistant U.S. Attorneys in offices throughout the country, 100 additional FBI agents, and an increase in the number of lawyers in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department.

17. A program to develop better law enforcement communications.

18. An intensified effort to develop more modern weapons and equipment for police.

19. A Bank Protection Act.

20. An Auto Theft Prevention Act.

21. That a model crime prevention pro, gram be required in each Model Cities plan.

22. A Right of Privacy Act.


Our total Federal anti-crime effort will require more than one-half billion dollars-some $557 million--in appropriations in the coming year. This is an increase of about 28% above this year's total of $435 million, and almost three times the amount appropriated in 1960.


For decades our system of criminal justice has been neglected. As a result:

--Local law enforcement is undermanned and underpaid.

--Correctional systems are poorly equipped to rehabilitate prisoners.

--Courts at all levels are clogged; procedures are often archaic.

--Local juvenile offender systems--which must deal with increasing numbers of delinquents--are understaffed and largely ineffective.

For decades the conditions that nourish crime have been gathering force. As a result, every major city harbors an army of the alienated--people who acknowledge no stake in public order and no responsibility to others.

Thousands of Americans are killed or injured each year by criminal acts. Many thousands more are unable to use the streets of their cities without fear, or to feel secure in their homes or shops.

Far too many of our youth are saddled with a criminal record early in life, repeat their violations again and again, and find life-long difficulty in obtaining decent employment and social acceptance.

Property valued at almost $4 billion is lost through crime every year. Millions of dollars are taken from the productive economy by organized racketeers--money that should be in the pockets of the poor, or in the bank accounts of honest businessmen.

Drug abuse presents an insidious and growing threat to our nation's health, particularly the health of young people.

These conditions strike at all citizens, regardless of economic status. Neither affluence nor poverty affords protection against crime and violence.


In the year just ended, the Federal Government--and some cities and States--made a significant new beginning toward coping with the intolerable costs of crime.

In 1965 1 appointed a Commission of the ablest lawyers, judges, and experts in law enforcement to study every aspect of crime in America. This Commission conducted the most comprehensive review and analysis of crime in our country that has ever been undertaken. We have made this report available to thousands of policemen, criminologists, and city and state officials to assist them in their work against crime. We are already beginning to see the healthy effects of the Commission's research and insights.


--The Federal organized crime drive is at an all-time high.

--The Department of Justice, through its Office of Law Enforcement Assistance, has helped fund hundreds of valuable projects, from police patrol helicopters to computerized criminal information networks.

--Other Federal agencies are contributing their share to this effort--in such fields as alcoholism control, juvenile delinquency, urban law enforcement planning, narcotics and drug control, prisoner rehabilitation programs and police-community relations.

--Half of our States have established State law enforcement planning commissions to help coordinate statewide efforts.

--Federal, State, and local agencies are sharing knowledge, pooling their resources and experimenting with new techniques and organizations.

--A Federal Judicial Center has been established to revitalize and modernize our Federal court system.

This year America must decisively capture the initiative in the battle against crime.

The major effort must be made by our cities and towns. State Governments must provide maximum support.

For our part, we must strengthen our Federal law enforcement effort to deal promptly, firmly and effectively with those who violate Federal criminal laws and we should assist states and cities in their local efforts.

I pledge my part.

I urge the Congress to do its part.

And most important, I urge the Governors and Mayors to do their part.

The Governors and the Mayors, as well as the Congress and the Executive Branch, must this year reaffirm for the American people the basic principle I stated last year: "Public order is the first business of government."

I. The Responsibility for Local Law Enforcement.

The Federal Government must never assume the role of the Nation's policeman. True the Federal Government has certain direct law enforcement responsibilities. But these are carefully limited to such matters as treason, espionage, counterfeiting, tax evasion and certain interstate crimes.

Crime is essentially a local matter. Police operations--if they are to be effective and responsible--must likewise remain basically local. This is the fundamental premise of our constitutional structure and of our heritage of liberty.

The existing pattern of law enforcement makes it clear that local governments must play the primary role in any effective program to combat crime:

--Of the 40,000 law enforcement agencies in the Nation, more than 39,750 are local, while some 200 are State, and the remaining few are Federal.

--Of the 371,000 full-time law enforcement officers in the Nation, 308,000 are local, while only 40,000 are State and 23,000 are Federal. Under our Constitutional system, the prevention and punishment of crime in the streets is committed to State and local governments. It is essentially the task of mayors and local police, supported by their governors.

Today, I call upon every Mayor and every Governor of our Nation to:

--Examine the local ordinances and state criminal laws to see that they are fair, firm, effective and adapted to the criminal justice problems of the Twentieth Century.

--Review the adequacy of their correctional efforts: not just jails, but detention centers, half-way houses, social services, juvenile delinquency efforts, and well-trained probation and parole officers.

--Examine their judicial systems to make certain there is an adequate number of judges and prosecuting attorneys and that arraignments and trials are promptly held.

--Fully support their local police not only in public statements, but with the funds necessary for adequate salaries, first-rate training and the most modern equipment.

Two years ago--on March 9, 1966"-I asked "the Attorney General to work with the Governors of the fifty States to establish statewide committees on law enforcement and criminal justice." Since then 25 States have taken advantage of Federal grants to help establish such statewide commissions: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

I urge the remaining States to act this year. And I urge the Mayors of our cities to establish their own local crime commissions.

2. The Safe Streets and Crime Control Act.

While we reject Federal domination of law enforcement, we recognize that the Federal Government has an inescapable responsibility to help strengthen local law enforcement efforts.

Today, I renew my urgent request to the Congress for immediate passage of the Safe Streets and Crime Control Act which I proposed last year.

This Act is the cornerstone of the Federal anti-crime effort to assist local law enforcement.

It builds upon the fundamental tenets of the Crime Commission's report:

--That crime prevention is a major national priority.

--That better paid, better trained, better equipped police are urgently needed in almost every community.

--That correctional and other law enforcement agencies must have better information on the causes and control of crime.

--That we need substantially more--and more efficiently used--resources and personnel to provide faster action at all levels.

--That the entire system of criminal justice, at every level of government, must be modernized. The bill I sent to Congress last year emphasizes flexibility and local responsibility. It provides:

--100% grants for research and demonstration projects.

--90% planning grants to State and local governments.

--60% action grants to implement new programs.

--50% construction grants for new facilities.

3. Federal Assistance for education and training of law enforcement officials.

Law enforcement means more than putting on a uniform. It means learning about the Constitution, about our laws, about weaponry, about people. It means keeping up to date as our knowledge grows and our techniques and equipment improve. Many local law enforcement agencies cannot now supply the advanced training our men need.

Because this training and education are so essential, I propose that the Safe Streets Bill as originally recommended be amended to:

--Authorize the Federal Bureau of Investigation to expand its training programs for State and local law enforcement personnel, both in the field and at the FBI National Academy at Quantico.

--Provide more substantial financial assistance to State and local law enforcement agencies to develop their own training programs.

--Establish a specific program of fellowships, student loans and tuition aid for State and local law enforcement officers.

--Create a National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice to develop a major Federal research program for the application of the most advanced science and technology to law enforcement.

4. As a measure of this program's urgency, I call on the Congress to appropriate $100 million for the Sate Streets Act in fiscal 1969--double the amount I proposed last year.

5. Youth and Delinquency.

The great majority of our young people-members of the healthiest, the most intelligent and forthright generation this country has ever known--are devoting their energies and idealism to affirmative and useful endeavors. Millions are personally involved in bringing justice, strength and prosperity to America and to the world. In the Armed Forces, in the Peace Corps, in high schools and universities, in the poverty program and in other productive jobs, the youth of America are making a constructive record that is unequaled by any generation of Americans.

But for thousands of others, the years of youth are spoiled by crime:

--Youngsters. under 18 accounted for one-fifth of all non-traffic arrests in 1965.

--Those under 24 accounted for half of all those arrested for major crimes of violence-homicide, rape, robbery and assault.

--Three out of four of those arrested for larceny, burglary, and auto theft were under 24.

This problem will not disappear by itself. It will not disappear simply as a consequence of the passage of criminal laws. No child is born a criminal.

But, we know that children born into certain environments all too often view the policeman--and the civil order he protects-as an enemy, rather than as a protector. Many parents fail to impart to their children that respect for lawful and just authority on which a decent society depends. Thousands of these early, individual failures later become parts of a national tragedy.

In the past few years, we have devoted immense resources to education, job training, urban planning and rehabilitation and civil rights.

But these efforts are not enough. We need a more direct and immediate effort to deal with juvenile delinquency at the local level.

I urge the Congress to pass the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act that I proposed last year. This Act would:

--Authorize $25 million in assistance to State and local agencies in the first year to develop new plans, programs, and special facilities to deal with youthful offenders.

--Encourage the development of new community correctional programs which avoid the stigma and isolation that often follow prison experience.

--Help local authorities deal with delinquents effectively in terms of their individual needs, and avoid, whenever possible, separating young offenders from their families and from the society they will rejoin.

--Develop a greater range of alternatives to jail--for example, half-way houses, youth rehabilitation centers and family-type group homes.

Young Americans are our Nation's most valuable and valued resource. No loss is greater than when a youth--with the world before him--is cast into adulthood as a marked criminal. The health of our Nation requires a determined effort to master the problem of delinquency. But we must never forget that there is--as there should be--a limit to the extent to which public efforts can properly affect private lives. Neither the Executive nor the Congress-nor the policeman nor the youth worker-can substitute for parents. In their hands lie the ultimate responsibility.

6. Alcoholism.

Alcoholism is tragically high on the list of our Nation's health problems.

Five million Americans are alcoholics. They bring incalculable grief to millions of families. They cost their families, their employers and society billions of dollars.

While alcoholism is essentially a medical problem, it is also a problem of law enforcement. The local policeman--not the doctor-is usually the first point of contact between society and the public drunk, the intoxicated driver or the down-and-out derelict.

Alcoholics and heavy drinkers overburden our law enforcement and judicial systems:

--There are currently about two million arrests each year for drunkenness--nearly one-third of all arrests.

--Excessive drinking plays a part in nearly half of all fatal traffic accidents.

--Local police and courts spend a disproportionate amount of time and effort on what is essentially a medical problem-time that should better be spent dealing with serious offenses.

--A large percentage of all inmates in short-term correctional institutions are there solely because of public intoxication and related minor offenses.

Yet these crowded institutions generally provide no services or programs to treat them. In virtually all our communities, alcoholics receive less adequate care than other sick people.

The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare is now engaged in a major program dealing with the causes and treatment of alcoholism. I recommend that the Congress strengthen this program with appropriations next year of $13.4 million in fiscal 1969.

To deal with the alcoholic whose behavior brings him into contact with the law, I propose the Alcoholic Rehabilitation Act of 1968. This Act would provide Federal leadership and assistance to States and localities in developing non-jail alternatives for the handling of alcoholics.


The Federal Government must have the tools it needs to become a more effective instrument in the war on crime: stronger laws, more personnel, and more resources.

7. Coordination.

The first step in an accelerated Federal anti-crime drive is better coordination. Our efforts must not be dissipated. Responsibility must not be fragmented.

At the present time, a large number of Federal agencies play a significant role both in front-line enforcement, and in programs to aid State and local agencies. The resources and experience of many different departments and agencies are needed in this effort. But, there must be a control room for Federal action.

Today I am acting in several ways to provide this coordination, and to mobilize the agencies of Government that participate in the work of fighting crime.

I signed this morning an Executive Order designating the Attorney General to:

--Coordinate the criminal law enforcement activities of all Federal Departments and agencies,

--Coordinate all Federal programs that assist State and local law enforcement and crime prevention activities.

The Attorney General will establish a special office in the Justice Department to carry out this critical work.

State and local law enforcement agencies will now have a single office in Washington to contact for information concerning all Federal programs which may affect them. These include projects as varied as:

--The Labor Department's training programs for sub-professionals in police and court work.

--Juvenile delinquency and alcoholism prevention efforts of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

--The Department of Housing and Urban Development's planning and other assistance programs that affect law enforcement.

--The police-community relations programs in the Office of Economic Opportunity.

The Attorney General will not operate these programs. He will coordinate them and issue guidelines to ensure that they make the maximum impact in meeting the Nation's public safety needs.

8. Strengthened and Unified Corrections.

The apprehension and conviction of a criminal is doomed to ultimate futility if we do not deal effectively with him while he is in the hands of the law.

Our correctional system serves two primary functions. It protects the public through the detention or close supervision of convicted offenders. It also seeks to return them to a productive life through education, training, and other programs.

The number of released offenders who subsequently revert to a life of crime is disturbingly large. The Crime Commission estimated that about one-third of released criminals return to prison within five years.

The task of supervising hardened criminals, and of repairing and strengthening lives is difficult, and often unappreciated. This work requires highly trained personnel and carefully-supervised programs of parole and probation.

Today the Nation's correctional system is undermanned and under-equipped. We must make it a strong arm in our total effort to protect the public from crime.

To achieve substantial improvements in this long-neglected area, I ask the Congress to increase the program funds available to the Bureau of Prisons by $3 million.

The Federal Government has developed a system of institutions and services--penitentiaries, reformatories, youth centers, parole and probation--to protect society and to lead violators to more worthwhile lives.

Yet our correctional system is fragmented. The courts supervise parole and probation, while the Executive Branch administers the prisons.

This division of responsibility impedes our efforts to build a strong and effective correctional system. We need a single, unified organization to coordinate the prison personnel who are responsible for the treatment of prisoners and the community personnel who supervise their parole.

I again ask the Congress to unify this system by establishing a United States Corrections Service within the Department of Justice.

9. Narcotics and Drugs.

In no area of law enforcement is there a greater need for a concentrated drive than in dealing with the growing problem of narcotics and dangerous drugs.

These powders and pills threaten our Nation's health, vitality, and self-respect.

Heroin addiction is largely an urban problem, focused in slum areas. But hallucinogens, such as marihuana and LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) have spread to suburban and rural regions, and are taken by far too many American youths. The improper use of dangerous drugs--barbiturates, pep pills, speed, other amphetamines---cuts across all segments of the population.

The present Federal laws dealing with these substances are a crazy quilt of inconsistent approaches and widely disparate criminal sanctions. Responsibility for their administration is found in no single Department of the Federal Government.

The Department of the Treasury, through the Bureau of Narcotics, is responsible for narcotics and marihuana enforcement--because historically jurisdiction in that area was based on the taxing power of the Federal Government. This Bureau has only about 300 agents for the United States and all its foreign operations.

The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare enforces the dangerous drug laws through its Bureau of Drug Abuse Control, which has only about 300 agents.

Penalties for improper use of these substances are inconsistent--and in the dangerous drug field, too weak.

The illegal sale of LSD, a powerful hallucinogen, is only a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum prison term of one year for the first offense. There is no penalty at present for possession of LSD for personal use.

Possession of marihuana, another hallucinogen, is punishable by a minimum term of two years and a maximum of ten for the first offense. Illegal sale is punishable by a minimum of five years.

These inconsistencies have seriously hampered law enforcement--for drug and narcotics peddlers do not observe bureaucratic niceties. More than 90% of seizures of LSD made by the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control have also turned up marihuana--but that Bureau is not authorized to make arrests for illegal trafficking in marihuana.

We can no longer deal with this major problem in a haphazard way. We must mobilize now to halt the growing trade in harmful narcotics and drugs.

I propose that the Congress immediately:

--Enact legislation to make the illegal manufacture, sale or distribution of LSD and other dangerous drugs a felony and the illegal possession of these drugs a misdemeanor.

--Provide funds to increase the number of Federal narcotics and dangerous drug agents by more than one-third. In addition, I am requesting:

--The National Commission on Reform of the Federal Criminal Laws--an expert and distinguished Commission established by Congress last year--to give its immediate attention to a review of all our narcotics and drug abuse laws, and to recommend a balanced and consistent approach to this problem as soon as possible.

--The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to increase the activities of his Department in the area of rehabilitation of drug addicts, and in alerting young people to the threat addiction poses to their lives.

Finally, and most important, I am today transmitting to the Congress a reorganization plan to transfer the functions of the Bureau of Narcotics and the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control to the Department of Justice.

There, in a new Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, these functions can work together with greater effectiveness and efficiency. This step implements the recommendation of the Hoover Commission of 1949, and of the 1963 Presidential Advisory Commission on Narcotics and Drug Abuse.

The new Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs would be in a strong position to:

--Use the experienced manpower of the two existing Bureaus more efficiently by avoiding duplicating and overlapping investigations,

--Economize by consolidating regional offices,

--Provide a single channel of communications with State, local and foreign narcotic control authorities, and

--Improve liaison with the Organized Crime Section of the Department of Justice, and thus strike at an important aspect of organized crime--the illegal drug trade.

10. Riot Control.

Last summer many of our cities were shaken by disorders that cost scores of lives and millions of dollars in damage.

All Americans have thought about and discussed the causes of this national tragedy. We know the answers are complex. For this reason, I appointed, last August, a National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, and charged its members with three questions:

"What happened?"

"Why did it happen?"

"What can be done to prevent its happening again and again?"

We await their report and recommendations.

But there is no need to wait before protecting society against those who would tear it apart for whatever purpose.

I propose the Federal Anti-Riot Act of 1968.

This new law will make it a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, for any person to incite or organize a riot after having traveled in interstate commerce with the intention to do so.

This is a narrow and carefully drawn bill. It does not impede free speech or peaceful assembly.

It is not a solution to our urban problems. But it does give the Federal Government the power to act against those who might move around the country, inciting and joining in the terror of riots.

This bill does not involve the Federal Government in dealing with disturbances that are locally incited and properly a matter for State and local authorities.

I urge those authorities--the Governors and Mayors of this Nation--to review carefully their State and local anti-riot laws to make certain they provide effective protection for their citizens.

This new law should be coupled with the Federal Firearms Bill. Both seek a common end--to reduce crime and disorder in our cities by restricting the interstate movement of two causes of death and destruction--the criminal agitator and the gun. II. Organized Crime.

Organized crime is big business in America.

Its sinister effect pervades too many corners of America today--through gambling, loan sharking, corruption, extortion, and large movements of narcotics.

The Crime Commission reported: "Organized crime is a society that seeks to operate outside the control of the American people and their governments. It involves thousands of criminals, working within structures as complex as those of any large corporation, subject to laws more rigidly enforced than those of legitimate governments. Its actions are not impulsive, but rather the result of intricate conspiracies, carried on over many years and aimed at gaining control over whole fields of activity in order to amass huge profits." These conspiracies have taken over legitimate businesses. They have attempted to invade the councils of our cities.

It is clear that sporadic, isolated, uncoordinated attacks on this disciplined army of the underworld cannot obtain lasting results. Organized crime can be defeated only by organized law enforcement.

Under the direction of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the Department of Justice, a "Strike Force" program has recently been initiated. Experienced investigators and attorneys from several Federal departments and agencies work together in a campaign concentrated on a single, organized criminal syndicate in a particular geographic area.

Strike Force Number One, centered in a large northern city, used skilled investigators from the Bureau of Narcotics, the Customs Bureau, the Secret Service, the Department of Labor, and Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This Strike Force, in cooperation with Canadian and local officials, was responsible last year for Federal indictments of 25 underworld figures.

Additional strike forces are now being formed. Within the next few months they will be moved, without public notice, into several parts of the Nation where organized crime now flourishes.

I have directed the Attorney General and this Government's law enforcement agencies to give this program the highest priority. Funds are included in my budget to support these additional Strike Forces.


12. Gambling Laws.

Gambling provides the major source of revenue for organized crime, It is vital that the Government have statutory means to play a leading role in striking at illegal gambling activities.

The federal wagering tax produces needed revenue for the Federal Government from a source that is highly appropriate as long as illegal gambling flourishes. It is important that this tax, imposed by the Congress, be collected efficiently, and without infringing the constitutional rights of taxpayers.

I recommend that our gambling laws be strengthened this year.

First, we should broaden the law to make it a Federal crime to engage in gambling as a substantial business affecting interstate commerce.

Second, the Federal Wagering statute should be modified to preserve this valuable taxing authority in a form that does not raise constitutional problems.

These legislative proposals will be sent to the Congress shortly. I urge their prompt consideration.

13. Immunity Legislation.

Last year I requested immunity legislation to compel the giving of testimony concerning activities having strong links with organized crime. This kind of authority has proven its value in the past, but its current scope is limited. l renew my proposal that immunity legislation be extended to the Racketeering Travel Act, to the Obstruction of Justice statute, to the criminal bankruptcy law, and to matters involving bribery, graft, and conflict of interest.

14. Effective Prosecution.

Today, the prosecution in a Federal criminal case cannot appeal when a District Court grants a pre-trial motion to suppress evidence. In many cases, the suppression of that evidence may effectively terminate the prosecution.

The House of Representatives has enacted legislation authorizing the Government to appeal such orders when they believe an appeal is justified.

I ask the Senate to pass this legislation promptly.

15. Gun Control.

We cannot control crime without controlling the random and wanton distribution of guns.

There is little need to restate the arguments for taking this action. We must stop what amounts to mail order murder.

Newspapers and radios proclaim each day the tragic toll of death and injury caused by firearms. An estimated 750,000 Americans have died by this means since 1900--far more than have died at the hands of all our enemies in all the wars we have fought.

Once again I urge the Congress to enact the bill l proposed last year to:

--Prohibit interstate mail order sales and shipments of firearms, except between Federal licensees.

--Prohibit over-the-counter sales of handguns to out-of-state purchasers.

--Regulate the sale of firearms to minors.

--Further regulate the importation of firearms into this country. As I said one year ago:

"This legislation will not curtail ownership of firearms used either for sport or self-protection. 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."

We know the facts. Failure to act upon them is irresponsible.


16. Additional Federal Anti-Crime Officials.

Since 1960, the pending criminal caseload in the Federal system has increased by 90%. The total number of grand jury proceedings has grown by 31%. The total number of appeals has grown by 133%. During this period the number of District Court judges increased by 40%.

But the total number of Assistant United States Attorneys--the men throughout the country who bring the people's cases to court--increased by only 16%.

I am requesting the Congress to provide funds to enable us to add 100 additional Assistant U.S. Attorneys in offices around the country.

I am also requesting funds for more than 100 additional agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and for a substantial increase in the number of lawyers for the Criminal Division of the Justice Department.


At its heart, the law enforcement problem has always been--and will remain--a human problem. Wretched living conditions produced high crime rates a century ago in immigrant neighborhoods. Today, slum conditions are producing equally serious crime problems among the new immigrants to our cities.

We have dedicated ourselves to change those conditions--and we shall.

But our responsibilities require us to find more immediate solutions to the rising crime rate, that will help us maintain order while we build better foundations for urban life.

17. Improved law enforcement communications.

The Crime Commission Report showed that the ability of the police to make an arrest often depends upon the time within which affected citizens contact them, the speed with which radio messages can be transmitted, and the response time of neighborhood police.

In spite of our advanced technological knowledge and capacities, it often takes many minutes for help to reach a citizen. Further, communications facilities for essential emergency services in many metropolitan areas are over-crowded and out of date.

To implement a four-point program to improve law enforcement communications:

--I am instructing the Attorney General to cooperate with the Federal Communications Commission, local law enforcement authorities, and the telephone companies to develop methods to make the ordinary telephone more effective for summoning police aid in times of emergency. Such a step, recommended by the Crime Commission, was recently endorsed by the largest telephone company in the Nation.

--I have requested the Federal Communications Commission to give the highest priority in the allocation of new radio channels to police and other emergency services in our largest cities.

--I am asking the Presidential Task Force on Communications Policy, established last August, to undertake a study to determine the total public safety radio communications requirements and present capabilities in selected metropolitan areas.

--I am directing the Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense to develop a prototype, low-cost, light-weight personnel radio, which can be used by patrolmen throughout the Nation.

18. Modern Weapons and Equipment.

Revolvers and nightsticks are clearly inadequate for the many different crises faced by the police. New weapons and chemicals-effective but causing no permanent injury-have been and are being developed.

But too little is now known about their potential to preserve order while protecting lives. Too little is known about their limitations.

I am instructing the Director of the Office of Science and Technology, working with the Attorney General and law enforcement officials, to study these new weapons and chemicals and other new techniques in crime control. The results of this study will be made available to enforcement agencies throughout the country.

19. Bank Protection.

We must bring modern crime detection and protective equipment into our banks.

Robberies of financial institutions have increased continuously in the past decade.

In 1955 there were 526 robberies committed against financial institutions protected by Federal law. In 1966 there were 1,871 such offenses--an increase of about 250%.

Silent alarms and camera systems now exist that can both deter these crimes and aid in investigation and prosecution. Yet many financial institutions have not yet installed them.

I urge the Congress to enact a Bank Protection Act of 1968, to direct those Federal agencies with responsibilities for banks and savings and loan institutions to issue regulations requiring the installation, maintenance, and operation of appropriate protective systems.

20. Auto Theft Prevention.

We must reduce the great number of automobiles that are stolen each year.

Auto theft is the third most frequent, and the second most costly crime in America.

It is a crime that involves the young. Over 60% of all auto thefts are committed by persons under the age of 18. This is often the first step in a life of crime--a first step that might be easily prevented.

A principal device in auto theft is the so-called "master key," which can be used to start a car's ignition. These keys are advertised. They can be ordered by mail.

l propose the Auto Theft Prevention Act of 1968, to prohibit the advertisement, mailing and shipment in interstate commerce of motor vehicle master keys and information and devices from which such keys can be made.

This Act, together with auto safety regulations proposed by the Secretary of Transportation-which would require anti-theft devices to be included in automobiles manufactured after December 31, 1969--should help counter the rising rate of auto thefts. Some of our automobile manufacturers have already announced plans to include such devices in future models.

21. Model Precincts.

We must take advantage of our Model Cities program--the most comprehensive urban development program this country has ever undertaken--to promote the goal of effective law enforcement.

The Model Cities program gives us an opportunity to plan ahead for law enforcement in a new environment. Many cities have begun to do so.

I am directing the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, in cooperation with the Attorney General, to require each of the 63 cities now included within the Model Cities program, as well as any new grantees, to include within its total program a well-designed system for crime prevention and control. These could include such items as:

--Establishment of model precincts.

--Improvement of police-community relations.

--Creation of effective recruitment and training centers.

--New programs for youthful offenders. The Model Cities program gives us an opportunity to create safe streets in safe neighborhoods through more effective crime prevention and law enforcement systems. We must seize that opportunity.

22. Right to Privacy.

We must protect the American people against a new threat to one of our oldest and most precious rights--the right of personal privacy.

The principle that a man's home is his castle is under new attack. For centuries the law of trespass protected a man's lands and his home. But in this age of advanced technology, thick walls and locked doors cannot guard our privacy or safeguard our personal freedom. Today we need a strong law-suited to modern conditions--to protect us from those who would trespass upon our conversations.

Last year I recommended to the Congress the Right of Privacy Act. l urge the Congress to enact this legislation this year.


This 22-point program will, if adopted and put fully into practice, make the conditions of life for most law-abiding citizens safer, and thus freer and happier.

But in implementing it we must remain aware of its limitations, as well as its goals:

It is not a substitute for action by local law enforcement officials. The job of law enforcement--the basic responsibility--is for the local police, the local mayor, the city council, in short the people of our towns and cities.

It is not an answer to the frustrations of many young people. But it will help to steer thousands of young offenders to more productive lives.

It is not a solution to the illnesses of alcoholism and drug addiction. But it will enable us to deal with them more effectively.

It is not an answer to the blight of our cities and suburbs. But it will help to make our metropolitan areas more livable.

It does not establish a national police force, but it will help enable the Federal government to do its part well.

The Nation needs vigorous and substantial programs to meet the challenge of crime on all levels of Government but most importantly at the local level where it affects us all most immediately and most directly.

There are some who view the crime problem in racial terms. The facts belie this. Crime affects all Americans. It is not a problem of rich against poor or white against Negro, because the hard facts show that crime victimizes most severely and most directly those in poverty and those in minority groups.

No 'people need or want effective and fair law enforcement more than those who live in our crowded inner cities.

For all Americans we must improve and strengthen our law enforcement system.

Speeches and strong words and good intentions will not solve our Nation's crime problem.

This message will not solve our Nation's crime problem.

Only action will be effective to control crime in the cities and states of our country: action at the local level, action at the state level and action by the Congress of the United States.

Today I pledge the resources of the Federal Government to support the governors and mayors of our Nation in an all-out war against crime.

I urge the Congress to join with me by passing the legislation I have recommended ' in this message.


The White House

February 7, 1968

Note: For statements or remarks upon signing related legislation, see Items 320, 424, 553, 561.

Other related legislation was approved by the President as follows: a bill to authorize the Bureau of Prisons to assist State and local governments in the improvement of their correctional systems, July 1, 1968 (Public Law 90-371, 82 Stat. 280); the District of Columbia Alcoholics Rehabilitation Act, August 3, 1968 (Public Law 90-452, 82 Stat. 618); an amendment to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 relating to admissibility in evidence of confessions and eyewitness testimony, August 8, 1968 (Public Law 90-462, 82 Stat. 638).

The "Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders" is dated March 1, 1968 (Government Printing Office, 425 pp.).

For remarks of the President upon signing Executive Order 11396 relating to coordination of Federal law enforcement and crime prevention programs by the Attorney General, see Item 57.
See also Item 60.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Special Message to the Congress on Crime and Law Enforcement: "To Insure the Public Safety." Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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