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Public Papers - 1989 - June

Remarks to Law Enforcement Officers at the Federal Training Center in Glynco, Georgia

1989-06-15

I don't want to do anything less than solemn on an occasion like this, but I'll be darned if I'm going to sweat up here. I'm going to take my coat off, and I hope all you will, too.

Well, thank you all very much. In a sense, there's a little nostalgia in the air, because just 44 and a half years ago, Barbara and I had our honeymoon 14 miles from here, or just a few miles from here. So, I feel like it's coming back in a sense.

And I want to thank Charlie Rinkevich, who has really epitomized what cooperation stands for between law enforcement agencies. And I worked with him, as Nick Brady said, hand-in-hand, as we did battle against narcotics in south Florida. And the South Florida Task Force was a success. And one of the reasons that this place here has been a demonstrable success is that Charlie brought those same skills that he had of getting people working together and has applied them right here at Glynco.

I want to salute our Attorney General [Richard L. Thornburgh], who really is doing a superb job, shaping for me an anticrime package that I want to talk with you a bit about today. I want to salute Secretary Brady -- many don't realize that the Secretary of the Treasury has tremendous responsibilities in the field of law enforcement, and Nick's doing an outstanding job.

And then on the political front, I wasn't quite sure that anybody could ever fill the shoes of Bo Ginn, who's over here, your own. And sure enough, [Representative] Lindsay Thomas, who flew down with us on Air Force One, is doing a superb job for Georgia; and he's right here with us today, and I want to say I'm pleased he's here.

And unrelated though it is to battling crime, we brought with us another son of Georgia, and that is the Honorable Paul Coverdell, who had been a member of the State senate here, and is now the Director of the Peace Corps, worldwide -- Paul, over here.

And the last thing I would like to do -- those of you in the back can't see them -- but one of the things this center does is offer training in certain anticrime techniques and self-preservation techniques to Ambassadors. And I see that several of those who I have selected to be United States Ambassadors serving in foreign countries are here with us today, and I'd like to ask them to stand. [Applause]

This is such a warm summer day, I think Charlie ought to take you all over to Pam's. [Laughter] Sorry about that, Charlie. [Laughter]

We've had a lot of talk about the various kinds of training that our law enforcement people from all different agencies go through, and they were telling me about the shooting range. I also hear that a distinguished graduate of one of the courses was a predecessor in the ambassadorial training -- Shirley Temple Black was here, soon to be our Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, a tough assignment which she'll do very well. But I'm told that in shooting she had an almost perfect score: four shots right on the target. The target was a picture of a tourist with a camera. [Laughter] She's going to do well in Czechoslovakia.

But when you graduate from this center, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, you're going to leave, you graduates, with a knowledge that you've already confronted the hardest questions that any peace officer must face. You will have already been tested under fire. And you will know, from the firearm training center, whether or not you would shoot when you must shoot and if you would hold your fire when the apparent bank robber turns out to be a child with a toy gun. And you will know from ``Hogan's Alley'' just how fast your reaction time really is. And in short, you will have been tried and tested, all of your reflexes -- physical, mental and moral. And when you return to duty -- whether your duty is at the Federal courthouse in Atlanta, the mountain hollows of West Virginia, or the city streets of New York -- you will take with you a confidence and a self-assurance that can only be earned, never bestowed.

And you might guard a NASA rocket, a witness under the threat of a murder contract, or a visiting Prime Minister. Or you might be a member of the U.S. Customs, the Secret Service, or practically any Federal agency. Or you might be a local or State law enforcer. But wherever you're from, whatever you do, you wear a badge over your heart, a badge of service, a badge of honor. And I came here to salute each and every one of you.

This center is dedicated to a special partnership between every man and woman with a badge. The bulk of law enforcement is provided by one partner: the States and localities, those closest to the streets and homes of America. The other partner, the Federal Government, is best equipped to fight specialized crimes, from interdicting drugs on the high seas to putting prison stripes on high-rolling crooks that are now in pinstripes. And the Federal Government is adept at yet another task: training. And that's why this center is so well suited to this special partnership.

This center is renowned for its high-tech, state-of-the-art facilities and many talented instructors. And it was my pleasure just now to meet several of those talented instructors. But it's more than your ample resources and your excellent faculty that make Glynco one of the most unique law enforcement training facilities in the world. It's also your singular and unwavering commitment to fighting crime. And you teach many agencies, but you are one academy with one purpose: to catch today's criminals with tomorrow's methods and to lift the shadow of fear from our neighborhoods, from our communities -- yes, from our entire country.

And here, investigators learn how to track down insurance or telecommunications fraud, money laundering, computer crimes. Glynco's Financial Fraud Institute will allow agencies to keep up with a boom industry, the quiet larcenies of white-collar crime. And let me just say parenthetically: If we are going to be fair about it, the white-collar criminal has got to pay along with the common street criminal.

But right here, State law enforcers work with Federal agents to learn how to crack a drug ring. And here, our U.S. Ambassadors learn to recognize and avoid terrorists. Investigators and regulators -- they learn how to work together to track down those who would poison our lakes and our rivers.

And nowhere else do law enforcers from so many agencies train together. You may be a security officer from the State Department or a U.S. Marshal. At this center you learn that there are many agencies that fight crime, but you are all members of one team, the united forces of justice.

The Peace Officers Memorial here at Glynco is a somber reminder of this shared cause and shared sacrifice. Thirty-nine names, thirty-nine slain Federal officers. All were graduates of this Center. Among the names is one that I recognize and knew well: Ariel Rios, a Special Agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, graduated from the Center in March 1979 and gunned down, shot to death, while working undercover trying to break up a drug ring in south Florida just 3 years later, in December of 1982. Julie Cross, Special Agent, U.S. Secret Service -- her name marks a poignant distinction. When she was killed in Los Angeles in June of 1980 while working a criminal counterfeit investigation, Julie became the first female Secret Service Agent to die in the line of duty. And sadly, these are not the only names of slain officers. Of 161 officers killed in the line of duty last year, 152 were State or local officers. More than 1,500 law enforcement officers have been killed in the past 10 years. And that is almost one death every 2 days. And one death for every 2 days -- that is too much.

I'm here today to deliver a message. And I said it in New York, after the murder of Special Agent Everett Hatcher. And I came here to Georgia to lay a wreath and to repeat a warning: Better that you had never been born than to attack one of America's finest. We are going after those who kill or wound our police officers.

And so, I've also come here to send a message to the United States Congress: We can work together to protect those who protect us. And I've come here today to sign a transmittal, an official message to Congress detailing our crime package. Usually, this would entail nothing more than a quick flourish of the pen and then sending an aide on a 10-minute car ride up from Pennsylvania Avenue, 1600, on up to Capitol Hill. But when it comes to fighting crime, you deserve more than business as usual. And that's why I have come almost a thousand miles to this wonderful Center to let you know we intend to back you where it counts -- on the streets and in the courtroom.

And first, I call on Congress to do for dangerous firearms what it has wisely done for dangerous drugs. I propose to double the mandatory penalties for the use of semiautomatic weapons in crimes involving violence or drugs. And those who use a semiautomatic weapon in Federal crimes, or so much as have one during the commission of a crime, will do an automatic 10 years in Federal prison -- and I mean 10 years -- no excuses, no probation, no parole. And let's put the handcuffs on the criminals, not on the criminal justice system.

Secondly -- and I know our able Attorney General agrees with this -- we can't plea-bargain away the lives of your loved ones, the lives of fellow cops and kids. And I have directed the Attorney General to advise America's Federal prosecutors to end plea-bargaining for violent Federal firearms offenses. Our message: Pack a gun, and we will pack you away. No plea-bargaining for that kind of crime.

And third, when a criminal commits a crime with a gun and someone dies, justice demands something in return: the ultimate penalty, the death penalty. And I call on Governors to match this Federal initiative and propose these same three standards at home -- mandatory time, no deals without cooperation, and the death penalty for these kinds of crime.

Fourth, at my direction, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms suspended the importation of certain assault weapons. ATF is continuing its examination to determine which, if any, of these weapons are not acceptable under the standards in existing law. And the standard talks about suitability for sporting purposes -- and you're hearing this from one who prides himself on being a sportsman, and have been a hunter all my life. And at the conclusion of this study, and after careful consideration, we will permanently ban any imports that don't measure up to these standards. I am going to stand up for the police officers in this country.

And toward this end, I am proposing the prohibition of the importation and manufacture of gun magazines of more than 15 rounds for citizens' use. I just don't believe that sportsmen require these 30-round magazines if the legitimate purpose is sports.

And finally, I am requesting funding for the hiring of 825 new Federal agents and staff: 375 at Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; 300 at the FBI; and 150 new deputy U.S. marshals. And these new law enforcers should be matched by 1,600 new prosecutors and staff. And we're asking for an additional billion, over and above 0 million already slated for 1990, for Federal prison construction. This will mean 24,000 new beds to boost Federal prison capacity by nearly 80 percent. In short, I am proposing more law enforcers to catch criminals, more staff to prosecute them, and more prisons to keep them off the streets.

You here at Glynco play a major role in this war on crime. And to say it exists to ``foster interagency cooperation'' is a forgivable understatement. It creates a bond between you and your roommates, your classmates, your fellow officers of the law. And this is a bond that can be known only by those who put themselves on the line every day in the service of a great cause. In a country where criminals threaten to erode the very liberties that we hold so dear, you here at Glynco are domestic freedom fighters in this war on crime. And for this reason, you have a friend in the majestic Oval Office, and you have the gratitude and the support of the American people.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:41 a.m. in the Steed Building. Prior to his remarks, he participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Peace Officers Memorial. In his remarks, the President referred to Charles F. Rinkevich, Director of the Center, and Pam's, a local bar. At the conclusion of his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.

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