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Public Papers - 1992

Remarks to the Law Enforcement Community in Newark, New Jersey


The President. Thank you all so very much. I mean, this is a tremendous event. I just can't tell you how much I appreciate the support of these men and women standing here. It transcends me personally. I think the fact is that this country must strongly support our law enforcement people. And I am grateful for this endorsement.

Let me just say that all of these organizations are important, the endorsement of the members of the New Jersey law enforcement community: the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police; the Newark Policemen's Benevolent Association; New Jersey State Fraternal Association representatives that are here; representatives of the New Jersey Sheriffs Association and groups from Newark to Nutley, Glen Ridge, East Orange, Bloomfield, Belleville, Verona, Port Authority, Essex County; police, jails and prosecutors office; Union County and Montclair to the Morris County sheriff's office. And that's a fine endorsement, I'll tell you. I treasure them all and the support of these individuals.

I think we would all agree that keeping America's neighborhoods safe and secure is one of the most 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, the candidates both are talking tough on crime, but just one is taking action. All I'm going to ask the American people to do between now and November is to look at the record.

Arkansas ranks near the bottom in every important per capita law enforcement expenditures: for prisons, 46th; judicial and legal systems, 50th; and when it comes to spending for police officers, Arkansas ranks 49th. Since 1989, my administration has proposed a 59-percent increase in Federal spending to fight crime.

Here is another snapshot of the situation in Arkansas: Last year under Governor Clinton, Arkansas' criminals on average served just one-fifth of their sentence before they were back on the street. They did the crime, and they serve one-fifth of the time. That is not right. That's not protection for every family in this country. The Federal situation, the area under my control: Inmates who fall under my jurisdiction serve an average of 85 percent of their full sentence. And I'm not too happy of that; I would like to see it 100 in most of those cases.

But anyway, crime is one more issue where the Governor of Arkansas can't talk his way past his record. If you want to know who's really tough on crime, take a look at the people that are out there risking their lives for you and me every single day of their lives. Take a look at the people on the front lines. Take the Fraternal Order of Police down in Little Rock, for example. They lived with Bill Clinton for 12 years, and they know his record best. And they have endorsed George Bush for President of the United States.

Let me remind some of these officers of something some of them know and then might be new to some others. For 4 years I've kept a badge, a police badge, and I brought it along with me. I keep this in the desk in the Oval Office. I'm sure you've seen pictures of the President's desk on the television. This is number 14072 of the New York police force, city of New York. And I was given this by Police Lieutenant Matt Byrne. He gave it to me. It's the badge that his son Eddie wore the day he was gunned down by a gang of crackheads. And as Matt asked, I have kept that badge as a reminder of all the brave police officers who put their lives, put your lives, on the line for us every single day.

And yes, I'm grateful for this endorsement, these many endorsements, but it transcends that. You have my thanks for your service to your country. You have my support. You're on the side of the law, and I am on your side. With your strong support, I am absolutely convinced that we can make dramatic progress, more progress turning back the threat of drugs and crime, making our communities more safe and more secure. We talk of strengthening family. One way to strengthen family is give the families neighborhoods that are free of these criminals. That's what these people with me here today do every single day of their lives. And I am very, very grateful, grateful for this vote of confidence.

May God bless the men who wear the badge and the women who wear the badge and serve our great country. Thank you very much. Thank you all.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

Note: The President spoke at 5:42 p.m. at Newark International Airport.

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