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Public Papers - 1992

Remarks to the Law Enforcement Community in Oshkosh, Wisconsin


Thank you all on this beautiful day in Oshkosh. I am delighted to be here. I want to thank the Mayor and ask that he not send the bill -- [laughter] -- but thank him for the presentation. And I am very, very grateful to the men and women in law enforcement who are standing here, Officer DeBraska and Paul Bucher particularly, were up here speaking. It's also an honor to be introduced by one of the Nation's great, Governor Tommy Thompson. You're lucky out here, and I hope you know it.

But I am very honored and pleased to receive the endorsement of Wisconsin's law enforcement community: the State troopers, the Sheriffs Department Association, the Military Police Association, the Milwaukee Police Association.

You know, keeping our neighborhoods safe and secure is one of the fundamental responsibilities of government. It takes a tough, no-nonsense approach, one that puts our sympathy with the victims of crime, not with the criminals. After all, hard time is what criminals should get, not the innocent kids and older Americans who have to live in fear of violence. In this election, two candidates are talking tough on crime, but just one candidate is taking action. All I ask, and will be asking the American people in these debates if the other guy ever shows up -- [laughter] -- is look at the record.

Look at the record. Arkansas ranks near the bottom in every important per capita law enforcement expenditure: for prisons, 46th in the Nation; for judicial and legal systems, 50th; and when it comes to spending for police officers, Arkansas ranks 49th. Since 1989, we've proposed a 59-percent increase in Federal spending to fight crime.

Here's another snapshot on the Arkansas situation: Last year under Governor Clinton, Arkansas' criminals on average served just one-fifth of their sentence before they were back out on the street. They did crime, and then they serve one-fifth of the time. That is not right. And let me contrast that with the Federal inmates, the ones who fall under the Federal jurisdiction, my jurisdiction: Arkansas one-fifth of the time, and the Federal prisons an average 85 percent of their full sentence. A big difference in favor of the police officers, in favor of the victims of crime.

Crime is one more issue, one more area where the Governor of Arkansas cannot kind of slickly talk his way past his record. If you want to know who's really tough on crime, look around you here today. Look at the people that are out on the front line, putting their lives at risk for you and me every single day. That's who we ought to support, not worrying about how kind we want to be to these criminals.

And speaking of those who are on the front line, I was delighted -- take a look at the Fraternal Order of Police in Little Rock, Arkansas. They've lived with Governor Clinton for 12 years, and they know his record best. And they endorsed me for President of the United States.

To you who put your lives on the line every day, let me just say you have my thanks. But much more than that, you have our strong support. You are on the side of the law, and I am on your side. I wish you had a little more clout with the United States Congress. For 1,091 days, I believe the figure is, they are sitting on a strong anticrime bill that I sent up there 3/2\ years ago. And they've done absolutely nothing with it. That is not fair to the men and women who wear the uniform, who are out there supporting us. Whether it's in the courts or on the streets, we need to back them up with strong Federal anticrime legislation.

You know, with your strong support, I know that we can take back the streets and we can turn back the threat of drugs and crime and make our communities safer and more secure.

So thank you all very, very much, women and men of law enforcement, for your vote of confidence. May God bless the men and women who serve us. Thank you very, very much. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:20 a.m. at Wittman Regional Airport. In his remarks, he referred to Robert Jungwirth, Mayor of Oshkosh.

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