[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book II)]
[September 19, 1995]
[Pages 1379-1382]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to the Community in Jacksonville, Florida
September 19, 1995

    Thank you so much. Wow! Sheriff Glover, I don't ever want to be on 
the ballot against you. I'm glad to be here.
    Thank you, Congresswoman Corrine Brown, for your friendship and your 
support, and thank you for your support of the crime bill, which has 
made our streets safer and made the children's future here more secure. 
Thank you, Governor Chiles, for being my friend and adviser and for your 
leadership. And thank you, Lieutenant Governor MacKay, for your long 
support and your leadership here. Mayor Delaney, we are delighted to be 
here in this great and growing community. I want to thank you and the 
State's attorney, Harry Shorstein, and all the other local officials 
    And I want to say, as President, it's a particular honor for me to 
be here in Jacksonville not only because this is a vibrant, growing city 
that did get a professional football team--[applause]. Don't be 
discouraged by the rough starts. I've had a lot of rough starts in my 
life. The opera is not over.
    I want to also say a special word of thanks to the people of 
Jacksonville for the remarkable contribution that has been made by this 
community over so many years to the national defense of the United 
States. We are grateful for that, and we continue to be grateful for 
    I want to say a special word of appreciation, too, to Florida's own, 
our Attorney General, Janet Reno, for the wonderful job that she has 
done as the Attorney General of the United States. And the Director of 
our COPS program, who is also here on my far left, Joe Brann, from 
California, who has come to Washington as a chief of police to work with 
us to get these police officers out in the United States. I thank them 
for being here, and I thank them for their leadership.
    I want to thank all the schools that are represented here. I have a 
list. I may miss some, but I think we're joined by Kite Elementary 
School, Lake Forest Elementary, Moncrease Elementary, Ribalt Middle 
School, Raines and Ribalt High School, and the Edward Waters College 
choir, thank you.
    I'd also like to thank one more person, Police Officer Larisa 
Crenshaw, who walked down the street with me today, because she and 
these other officers in uniform behind me, they're what we're here to 
talk about. I thank her, and I thank these people for being willing to 
serve your community in law enforcement.
    You know, when I ran for President in 1992, I had a vision of what I 
wanted America to look like as we enter the 21st century. I want this to 
be a high-opportunity country for all Americans, where entrepreneurs can 
flourish, where people who work hard can be in the middle class, where 
we shrink the under class and give everybody who is willing to do what

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it takes to make the most of their own lives a chance to do it. I wanted 
us to have strong families and strong communities with good education 
systems, good health care, a clean environment. But I knew that in order 
to do that we first had to tackle the problems of crime and drugs. 
Without safe streets, safe schools, and safe homes, America will never 
be what it ought to be.
    We've worked hard for the last 2\1/2\ years to bring the deficit 
down, to invest more in education, to deal with all of these issues I 
talked about. And we've got more jobs and less crime in America than we 
had 2\1/2\ years ago. And I think that's pretty good evidence that our 
strategy is working to move this country forward.
    On the issue of crime, I was astonished when I got to Washington, 
having been a Governor for 12 years--if there was one issue that had 
nothing to do with partisan politics all my life, it was crime. I never 
met a Republican or a Democrat that wanted to be a victim of crime. I 
couldn't imagine that there would ever be any partisan issue there. When 
I was a Governor, when I was attorney general, we all worked together on 
issues affecting public safety. And I can see that's what you do here in 
Jacksonville. When I got to Washington, I discovered that even though 
the violent crime rate had tripled from the 1960's to the 1990's, they 
had been fighting partisan battles over the crime bill for 6 long 
years--hot air in Washington, more crime on the streets.
    In 1994, we ended the hot air and the partisan bickering and passed 
the crime bill, and crime is going down on the streets of America. The 
crime bill featured more police, helped the States to build more 
prisons, stronger punishment for people who deserve it but also more 
prevention to give our young people something to say yes to as well as 
something to say no to, the chance to avoid getting into trouble in the 
first place.
    We made ``three strikes and you're out'' the law of the land. What 
that means is that people who are serious career criminals now will go 
to jail for the rest of their careers so they can't get out and continue 
to do violence and to victimize people. We banned deadly assault weapons 
from our streets and from our schools, while protecting hundreds of 
sporting weapons for law-abiding hunters and sports men and women in 
this country. It was a good balance and the right one to strike.
    We created an office to combat the problems of violence against 
women, in the home and on the street, a special problem in the United 
States and one the First Lady talked about when she went to China and 
represented us so well there just a few days ago.
    The most important thing we did was to give the communities of this 
country the ability to hire 100,000 police officers to do what these 31 
police officers behind me are going to do, to walk up and down the 
streets of America, like Marvin Street, to talk to neighbors, to talk to 
people, to get them involved in keeping their communities safe and free 
of crime.
    We give the communities the resources they need to put the police 
officers on the street, and people like Sheriff Glover all over America 
take responsibility to train and deploy those officers. Then the 
officers help ordinary citizens, like the folks I just visited with, 
walking up and down the street, to find the commitment to do their part 
in fighting against crime.
    If we're going to make our streets safe, if we're going to do what 
we have to do to give our children a chance at a future, we have got to 
have the help of grassroots citizens who are willing to work with police 
officers. If we can get them on the streets, you've got to help them do 
their jobs. In the 6 months since community police officers started 
patrolling this neighborhood, in 6 months, violent and property crimes 
have dropped by more than 8 percent in just 6 months. And they're just 
    What I want you to know is that, just like Sheriff Glover said that 
Jacksonville could do anything, America can do this. We do not have to 
put up with the high rates of crime we have. We do not have to put up 
with the high rates of drug abuse among our children we have. We can do 
something about it. You have evidence on this street, in this 
neighborhood. We can do something about it.
    All over America today, the crime rate is down, the murder rate is 
down. We see people making progress to take control of their own lives, 
their families, their neighborhoods, their schools, and get this country 
going in the right direction.
    But let me tell you, there are also troubling signs on the horizon. 
And I'll just give you two. While drug use is down among people between 
the ages of 18 and 34, casual drug use, marijuana, among teenagers is 
going back up again. While the crime rate is down all over America

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and the murder rate is down, violent crime among teenagers is going up 
    The Justice Department issued a report the other day which showed 
that while the overall crime rate is down, violent crime among juveniles 
is going up, and a majority of members of gangs say that they think they 
are justified in shooting someone who treats them with disrespect. We 
actually had a case in another city not very long ago where a 16-year-
old boy shot a 12-year-old boy who was sort of the neighborhood comic. 
And he thought the 12-year-old boy was treating him with disrespect.
    Whatever happened to ``Count to 10 before you do something you might 
later regret''? Whatever happened to kids being taught that sticks and 
stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you? Whatever 
happened to people defining self-respect based on what they believe 
about themselves, not what somebody else says about them? Shoot, if the 
President followed that rule, he wouldn't have any respect. [Laughter]
    You think about it. It's a big problem. Look at what happened in Los 
Angeles over the weekend. A family took one wrong turn and because they 
were in the wrong place, gang members felt they had the right to shoot 
at them and take their lives, kill an innocent child.
    So what I want to tell you is, this is a moment of great hope. We 
know we can lower the crime rate. We know we can lower the murder rate. 
We know we can reduce drug abuse and drug dealing in our neighborhood. 
We know we can take our streets back. We know how to do it. Your sheriff 
has proved that he can do it, working with you, if you will help him. We 
know how to do this. This is one of the most important things that has 
happened to America in the last 20 years. We don't believe we are 
helpless in the face of crime anymore. We know we can turn it around. 
But we also know that the job is not yet done.
    Therefore, to go back to what the Congresswoman said at the 
beginning, we fought through one partisan political battle to get this 
crime bill. I heard people say on the floor of Congress that the crime 
bill was a fraud, that it wouldn't help to lower the crime rate, that we 
would never get 20,000 police on the street in 6 years, and we were 
promising 100,000 in 6 years. Well, in one year, we're over 25,000, and 
we're going to make it on time, ahead of the budget, ahead of the 
    And we now have a consensus among the American people. I believe 
that we ought to keep on lowering the crime rate. I don't believe--I 
haven't heard the first person write me a letter and say, ``Dear Mr. 
President, I don't like the fact that the crime rate is going down. 
Please stop what you're doing.'' [Laughter] I haven't gotten one letter 
saying that.
    Now, in Washington the Congress is trying to balance the budget. I 
support that. We ought to balance the budget. We never had a permanent 
deficit until the 12 years before I became President. We have taken the 
deficit from $290 billion a year when I took office to $160 billion this 
year, more than 40 percent reduction. And I want to finish the job.
    We can balance the budget, and we should. But what I want to tell 
you is, we do not have to destroy our commitment to the education of our 
young people, to the training of unemployed people, to the economic 
future of America. We do not have to have dramatic increases in the 
health care costs of elderly people when 75 percent of them are living 
on less than $24,000 a year. We do not have to sacrifice the 
environmental and public health and safety protections that give us 
clean air, clean water, and safe food. We do not have to do any of this 
to balance the budget.
    I have given the Congress a balanced budget plan which does not do 
any of these things. And we certainly, we certainly do not have to come 
off of our commitment to put 100,000 police officers on the street and 
have more and more stories like the ones I heard walking up and down 
Marvin Street today. We owe it to America to balance the budget and to 
reduce the crime rate until Americans are safe in their streets, safe in 
their homes, safe in their schools.
    So I ask you, because you are fortunate enough to live in this 
growing and vibrant community, because you are fortunate enough to have 
elected leaders that work together across party lines and know that 
crime is an American problem and a human problem, because you are 
fortunate enough to have a sheriff who has proved to you that community 
policing works, because you are fortunate enough to have experienced a 
drop in the crime rate, I ask you to join with me and say to the United 
States Congress, this is not about partisan politics. We are lowering 
the crime rate in America. If we have more jobs and lower crime, America 

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going to be a better place. So let's continue to do that. Let's continue 
to do that.
    And let us say: Balance the budget, yes. But do it and still send us 
our police officers, because we want our children to have a healthy, 
safe, strong, drug-free, crime-free, violence-free future. And now we 
know we can do it. Let's don't stop. Let's keep on until the job's done.
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 9:47 a.m. at the Carvill Park Community 
Center. In his remarks, he referred to Sheriff Nathaniel Glover of Duval 
County; Gov. Lawton Chiles and Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay of Florida; Mayor 
John A. Delaney of Jacksonville; and Joseph Brann, Director, Community 
Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Department of Justice.