[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[May 29, 1998]
[Pages 851-852]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks Announcing the COPS Distressed Neighborhoods Pilot Project
May 29, 1998

    Thank you very much, Commissioner, and 
congratulations on your new position as the superintendent of the 
Chicago police. Mayor White, thank you, as 
always, for your astounding leadership. Madam Attorney General, thank you for faithfully and vigorously pursuing the 
partnership with law enforcement we did talk about so long ago now. Mr. 
Vice President, thank you for all you have 
done to make this a safer country. And I'd like to thank all the mayors, 
the police officers who are here, and say a special word of welcome to 
Congressman Cummings for his presence and 
for his support.

Death of Barry M. Goldwater

    Let me say, just before I came out here I received word that a few 
moments ago Senator Barry Goldwater 
passed away at the age of 89. He was truly an American original; I never 
knew anybody quite like him. As all of you know, we were of different 
parties and often different philosophies. But in the last several years, 
he was uncommonly kind to me and to Hillary. And I had occasions to 
visit with him, and I always came away, every time I met him--from the 
first time back when I was a senior in college, until the last time just 
a couple of years ago--with the impression that he was a great patriot 
and a truly fine human being. So our prayers will be with his 
wife and his family today. And our 
gratitude for his life of service to our country is very, very strong.

COPS Distressed Neighborhoods Pilot Project

    As you have heard, our country has made a lot of progress in the 
fight against crime in the last few years. We've made a lot of progress 
on a lot of areas. We just announced that we would have a budget surplus 
this year for the first time since 1969. We have the lowest unemployment 
rate since 1970, the lowest inflation rate in over 30 years, the lowest 
welfare rolls in 27 years, and of course, the lowest crime rates in a 
quarter century.
    All of these things are a great tribute to the American people in 
their communities, working at their lives. When I took office, I 
determined to make the Federal Government a genuine partner in building 
a better future for the American people everywhere. And it seemed to me 
that we could never do that unless we had a sensible strategy to make 
people feel safer in their streets. It is very difficult to feel like 
you're living in a free country as a free citizen if you don't feel safe 
walking the streets, if you don't think your children are safe when 
they're walking the streets or in the park or going to school, if you 
don't even feel safe in your own home.
    So we have worked on the strategy that has been outlined by the 
previous speakers. I'd like to emphasize especially the work that was 
done to give law enforcement officers the tools to do the job, the 
community policing program to put 100,000 more police on the street, and 
the effort to enlist ordinary citizens in the work of helping police to 
prevent crime and to solve crimes and to give them the tools to do the 
    Now, this all shows that whether it's the crime, the budget deficit, 
welfare reform, homeownership, anything--any challenge this country 
faces, we can only solve it if we work together. But when we do work 
together, we invariably make progress, sometimes astonishing progress. 
The principle behind community policing in a way is the principle behind 
everything we tried to do domestically. It embodies the concept of 
working together, to get more police out of the station houses, out from 
behind the desks, onto the streets, working with people in the ways that 
Superintendent Hillard just outlined.
    We pledged to put 100,000 on the street in the campaign of '92 and 
then in 1993 in the

[[Page 852]]

budget. Finally, in the crime bill in '94, we succeeded in getting that 
commitment enacted into law. We knew it would be a long-term effort, and 
we said we would try to achieve it in 6 years. Now we have reached a 
milestone: In only 4 years, we have now funded 75,000 of that 100,000 
community police. We're ahead of schedule on the thing that is doing the 
most to make America a safer place, thanks to those of you in law 
    I might also say thanks to the Attorney General and to you, Chief. We're not only ahead of schedule; 
we're also under budget. So if you guys will keep us under budget, we 
may go over 100,000 police.
    But as the Attorney General has said, and as all of you know, there 
are still some neighborhoods in America, and too many of them, where 
crime hasn't receded far enough or fast enough. Congressman 
Cummings told me this morning that he 
lives in one of those neighborhoods, and we need to do more. We have to 
focus our resources on high-crime, high-need neighborhoods to bring the 
benefits of community policing to every community. And in the difficult 
areas, that means we have to reach a critical mass of police officers in 
community policing before it can make the necessary difference.
    So I am pleased to say today that the Department of Justice will 
fully fund over 700 new community police officers who will be on the 
beat specifically in troubled areas: 150 in Chicago fighting drug-
related crime; 100 in Baltimore to fight drugs and violent crimes; 170 
in Miami to take back the streets in neighborhoods along the Miami 
River; Hartford will put their officers to work to fight a new surge of 
violent gang activity.
    Now, as we extend the reach of community policing in our cities, we 
in Washington have a responsibility to continue to advance this strategy 
that has brought success. We have more to do to protect our children, 
more to do to fight juvenile crime, more to do to keep our kids and our 
schools free and safe from guns and from drugs. The same community 
policing techniques that are helping to make our streets safe again are 
the best way to help keep our schools safe. In March we began to make 
funds available to achieve this objective, and we should do more.
    We have to do more and more to push back the frontiers of violence. 
The recent wave of shootings in our schools reminds us again that more 
police, more prosecutors, tougher laws, more vigilant neighborhoods, and 
more positive opportunities for our kids to stay out of trouble in the 
first place. All of those things have to be done by those of us in 
    But the parents, the teachers, the community leaders, all of them 
have to do more, too, to teach our children right from wrong, to teach 
them to turn away from violence, to identify troubled children before 
they do something irrevocably destructive. We have to do more to show 
our children by the power of example and the power of outreach that we 
care about each and every one of them.
    Finally, let me say that I want to say what has been said by 
others--what the Attorney General said. You're doing a good job, and the 
rest of us are grateful. We can say, ``Well, crime has dropped 27 
percent,'' or ``It's the lowest in 25 years.'' Those are statistical 
abstractions. There are children who are playing free today because of 
what you have done. There are people who are alive today because of what 
you have done. There are businesses functioning in neighborhoods today 
that would be closed if it hadn't been for what you have done. You have 
given our people a deeper freedom. And as we stand on the brink of a new 
century, we should all be very, very grateful.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:17 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to Terry Hillard, superintendent of 
police, Chicago, IL; and Mayor Michael White of Cleveland, OH. The 
related proclamation on the death of Barry M. Goldwater is listed in 
Appendix D at the end of this volume.