Public Papers

Remarks at the Twelfth Annual Crime Stoppers International Conference in Louisville, Kentucky


Thank you, George Underhill, for that very kind introduction, and all of you for that warm welcome to Louisville, and to this marvelous conference of Crime Stoppers. I'm very pleased, sitting over my shoulder here is the Attorney General, the Acting Attorney General of the United States, Bill Barr. Let me tell you something, Dick Thornburgh left a little while ago, resigned for purposes that certainly I understand, but Bill Barr here is doing an outstanding job for law enforcement and for the Department of Justice as our Acting Attorney General, and I'm just delighted he's here with me.

Let me congratulate Reginald Whynott for a job well done and his newly-elected successor, Sid Newman. And I'm delighted to join this 12th annual conference of Crime Stoppers International. I note that the day after tomorrow is the 60th birthday of this Nation's preeminent Crime Stopper, is it true that you've gathered here to throw a birthday party for Dick Tracy? [Laughter] I hope that Sid Newman will have, in the future, as much success as his predecessor had, because I've just had a grassroots briefing over at the police department on one unit of Crime Stoppers, and I'm told that the whole movement is growing by leaps and bounds. Not only is it growing nationally and internationally, but the volume of people using this service and working with law enforcement in this service is increasing exponentially. So, it's a wonderful thing.

You know, in school we learn the ``three Rs''. And from now on we'll also have to learn the Crime Stoppers' lesson, the ``three Ps''. To stop crime, we need people to help the police, and we need publicity by the press.

And after all, these three Ps produce a fourth: peace. You know, you promote public safety by turning it into a community affair. Crime Stoppers come in all sizes and descriptions: grandparents, kids, businessmen, parents. And you strengthen the bonds that turn a series of homes into real communities. And together, you make your communities, and our Nation, a lot better, stronger, a lot better and safer place to live. Indeed, through your 850 international programs, you make the world a safer place to live.

To Americans sick and tired of feeling threatened in their own homes, of cowering in fear of punks, of worrying about their kids and their future, I say, band together; become Crime Stoppers. You offer a cost-effective, responsible, moral way to help take back the streets.

You've contributed information that has helped solve 370,000 felonies. The courts have convicted 96 percent of those arrested through tips supplied by Crime Stoppers. Your information has helped authorities recover nearly billion in narcotics and stolen property. That works out to , in return on every dollar that is spent. Can you imagine what this country would be like if Congress worked like that? [Laughter]

But look what we're up against. Last year 6 million American citizens fell victim to violent crime, 6 million. Violent crime claimed the lives of over 20,000 Americans. Our streets pose a greater threat to our service men and women than did the foes in the Middle East. And we deserve better. Our children deserve better than that.

In May of 1989, I stood in the rain on the steps of the United States Capitol with some of the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line for all of us. Together, we called for Congress to pass our crime package: legislation designed to protect our cops by giving them the tools they need to get their job done. And yes, it was tough legislation. I think it was fair legislation.

And today, nearly two-and-a-half years later, I stand here in the midst of another group of highly dedicated people fighting crime. Two-and-a-half years have passed and Congress still has not passed the core provisions that we requested.

In March, we sent a crime bill to Congress, a bill designed to make your work less necessary. Our Comprehensive Violent Crime Control Act of 1991 will confront the terrifying spiral of lawlessness. It will strengthen our Federal criminal justice system, too often unfairly stacked against dedicated law enforcement officials.

Our bill will ensure that convicted felons no longer evade punishment by drowning justice in a sea of legal challenges unrelated to guilt or innocence. Our bill limits the chances of a violent criminal getting released on the basis of legal technicalities. And I think that's long overdue, to support the police officers in this country.

Our bill imposes tough sentences upon drug traffickers and violent felons who use semiautomatic weapons. It establishes new punishments against those who steal and smuggle firearms. No plea bargains. No early release.

Our bill establishes an enforceable Federal death penalty for those who murder Federal judges, and those who engage in the terrorist slaughter of civilians, and those who kill law enforcement officers or Federal witnesses.

We simply must tell criminals our society will protect itself. The American people want action.

In March, I asked the Congress to pass a crime bill within 100 days. The 100 days expired on June 14th. But the crime bill has not been enacted. Americans don't want excuses. They want action in this field. They don't want timid bills that nibble at the edges of the crime problem. They want a tough, comprehensive package. And our people want to see the fight on crime now. So, please, let your representative know that we want our Members of Congress to be crime fighters, too.

I am proud, very proud, to have an opportunity to pop in here and to salute you at this conference. You Crime Stoppers and our brave law enforcement officials earn our admiration, our respect; and you and this Nation deserve the best, toughest anticrime package that we can produce. No more loopholes. No more rolls of the dice. No more delays. Listen to these words: ``The land is full of bloody crimes. And the city is full of violence.'' The prophet Ezekiel wrote that over 2,000 years ago. The battle between good and evil still rages. But our crime bill, and your work, your dedicated, selfless work will strengthen the hand of good.

There are many frustrations in my job as President of the United States. I've just spoken to you about some of them here as we're trying to back up the law enforcement officers that we honor today. There are many satisfactions. Very candidly, when I see this young Bobby over here, sitting there with that hat on -- [laughter] -- no, that little guy, I say to myself -- [laughter] -- the guy in front of you is -- [laughter] -- and I say to myself, isn't it fantastic the changes that are taking place around the world, the reduction of the nuclear weapons, meaning less fear for that generation of nuclear weapons. And the fall of communism around the world and the principled leadership of Americans for freedom and democracy, not only over in the Middle East, but around the rest of the world as well, makes this a very exciting time to be President of the United States.

But the job clearly is nowhere near finished when I think of the problems that the law enforcement officers of this country face on our streets every single day. I am determined not only to lead in this direction for this kind of anticrime legislation, but I want to back up the law enforcement people in this country in every way I can.

You found a way. You, as Crime Stoppers, have found a way to give of yourselves. And now I, and the rest of my administration, and hopefully the United States Congress, will get with it, roll up our sleeves, pass this strong legislation, and back you up in your selfless work in every way possible.

It's been a great pleasure to be here. And may God bless the United States of American. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 4:16 p.m. at the Galt House East Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to George Underhill, conference chairman, Crime Stoppers International; Acting Attorney General William Barr; Richard L. Thornburgh, Republican candidate for the United States Senate; Reginald Whynott, former president of Crime Stoppers International; and Sid Newman, president of Crime Stoppers International. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.