Presidential Radio Address - 11 February 1995
Good morning. Today I've asked Attorney General Reno and Drug Control Director Lee Brown to join me here at the White House. I want to discuss the crime and drugs that plague almost every community in our country.
I ran for President because I believe it's the responsibility of our generation to work together to preserve the American dream for all Americans and to ensure that we move into the next century still the strongest country on Earth. The best way for us to do that is by building a new partnership in our country between Americans and their government, and especially between Americans and each other. I call that partnership the New Covenant.
Essentially that means the Government's responsibility is to expand opportunity while shrinking bureaucracy, to empower people to make the most of their own lives, and to enhance our security not just abroad but here at home, too. At the same time, it means we must demand more responsibility from every citizen in return, responsibility for our country, for our communities, for our families and ourselves.
Part of our job here in Washington is to help arm the American people to fight crime and violence. During the Presidential campaign I promised the American people that I would cut 100,000 Federal bureaucrats in Washington and use those savings to put 100,000 new police officers on America's streets. Last year, Democrats and Republicans joined together to pass the crime bill to keep that promise. We've been working ever since to put that crime bill into effect. It's been only 4 months since the crime bill became law, but already we've awarded over 16,000 new officers to half the police departments in America. We're under budget; we're ahead of schedule.
Police departments all around the country are putting this effort to work, hiring, training, and deploying officers as fast as we can give a go-ahead. The last thing your local police department needs is Congressmen in Washington playing politics with their safety and yours. But the astonishing thing is, despite the urgent need for more police on our streets, despite our success in getting them there, some Republicans in Congress actually want to repeal this effort. They want to replace an initiative guaranteed to put 100,000 police on the street with a block grant program that has no guarantees at all.
The block grant is basically a blank check that can far too easily be used for things besides police officers. That's why the law enforcement steering committee, representing over 450,000 police officers, is absolutely opposed to this block grant approach or to any other change that weakens our commitment to put 100,000 police on the streets.
Undermining this commitment to law enforcement is not acceptable. I didn't fight to cut 100,000 Federal bureaucrats so we could trade them in for an old-fashioned pork-barrel program. I fought to trade 100,000 bureaucrats for 100,000 police officers. Last year, Republicansand Democrats passed the 100,000 cops bill, and I signed it. I made a commitment, a promise to put 100,000 more police on our streets, because there is simply no better crimefighting tool to be found. And I intend to keep that promise. Anyone on Capitol Hill who wants to play partisan politics with police officers for America should listen carefully: I will veto any effort to repeal or undermine the 100,000 police commitment, period.
Of course, as crucial as these 100,000 police officers are, they can't do the job alone. Every citizen in America has to help in this fight, because no amount of police officers can replace people taking responsibility for their own lives and for their communities.
This week, I announced our administration's 1995 drug control strategy. It involves cutting off drugs at the source, stiffer punishment for drug dealers, more education and prevention, and more treatment. But perhaps the most important part of this strategy will be to boost efforts to educate our young people about the dangers and penalties of drug use. Our children need a constant drumbeat reminding them that drugs are not safe, drugs are illegal, drugs can put you in jail, and drugs may cost you your life.
Community-based education programs work. I saw them work in school when my daughter was younger. This morning I've been joined by some police officers who participate in community education programs and especially in the national drug abuse education and resistance program that you probably know as D.A.R.E. Every American should follow their example and accept the responsibility to join the fight against drugs and crime and violence.
Parents must teach their children right from wrong. They must teach that drugs are bad and dangerous. And make no mistake about it, parents must set a good example for their children. Young people must have the courage to do what's right and stand up for what's right. That means not using drugs, staying out of gangs, studying hard, avoiding violence. It also means telling friends that drugs and gangs and guns aren't cool, and children that are involved in those things aren't going to be your real friends.
That's what the New Covenant is all about: more opportunity, more responsibility. We've got to do our part here. But each and every one of you must take responsibility to join us. We can only win this fight together.
Thanks for listening.