Public Papers

Remarks at the Dedication Ceremony for the Drug Enforcement Administration's New York Field Division Office in New York City


Thank you all very, very much. Thank you for the welcome back. And may I return those kind words by saying that I think we have an Attorney General, came in at a complicated time and is doing a superb job for law enforcement. And it's a joy working with Bill Barr. I want to salute another with us today, Bob Martinez, the former Governor. He and I started working when he was the Governor of the State of Florida. We interacted then mainly on the interdiction side of this drug war. And I have great confidence in the job he's doing as our drug czar.

I want to say to our friend Dave Dinkins, the illustrious Mayor of the city, that I am very grateful to you, sir, for being with us today, for the kind comments you made about our collective efforts to win this battle; to salute you for what our people tell me has been outstanding cooperation from the New York Police. You deserve a vote of thanks for that, and I am very proud once again to be at your side.

May I salute Rob Bonner, who is our head of DEA. I hope that most of you that work with DEA have had the opportunity to meet him. He is dedicated, and again, I'm grateful that he's heading this very, very important Agency. Mr. Austin is here, Dick Austin of GSA. We're saluting a facility that I guess most of you have moved into a little before now. But it shows what can be done in these unique times, innovating from within and having the results be rather spectacular. Al DelliBovi is here. He's from HUD, our number two man there, doing a great job in the housing field. I thought I saw him. Oh, he's hiding way in the back over here.

May I salute, also, another man that I respect, Lee Brown. We trained him well in Houston, Texas, and look at him now. Here he is -- [laughter] -- here he is, doing a great job for New York and, I think, for all the people in the country. Monsignor O'Brien, I know of your work, sir, and thank you for putting it in focus with that wonderful invocation. To Bob Bryden, I got well-briefed coming up here on the effectiveness of this office, something that I'd learned from my own visit here a few years ago. But I salute you, sir, and I guess even more important, the day-in and day-out work of those people that work with you and for you here, a dedicated group. I guess there's no way that a President can adequately say thanks to those who put their lives on the line day-in and day-out for the young people and the families of this Nation. We are grateful to each and every one of you. And I'm pleased to be here.

You know, we meet at the end of a hectic month. Boris Yeltsin was in town just a week ago. He asked if I still thought that the day of the dictator was over, and I said I did. And he said, ``Well, so who is this Steinbrenner that I keep hearing about up there?'' [Laughter] It's good to be back in New York, I'll tell you.

But you know the message. I think it's a message that all of you can identify with. All Americans want families that are strong and united. All Americans want good schools and a job-creating economy and a world at peace. But all of this ties into your work because all Americans want neighborhoods that are safe, rejecting those who soft-pedal the need to be hard on crime. Some say that there are reasons that crime occur, and I'm sure that you can make a case for that. But I say there is never an excuse not to seek justice through the American system of law. And nowhere is this need clearer than this war that you all are engaged in, the war on drugs, a war this new office of DEA can help fight and win.

I was at that old DEA New York office in the spring of 1989, after the brutal murder of Agent Hatcher. And you know, in everybody's life there are events that make an impact on you. I'll never forget that one. It was brought home to me so clearly, the personal sacrifice and sometimes the personal suffering that goes with this fight against drugs. It was a sad occasion. And I tried to make clear then, and I repeat now, that we will win this war against drugs. As long as one American is hooked on drugs, that's one too many. And so we must stop drug use, not someplace, not sometime, but all across our country, now or as soon as possible.

And that's why -- Bill Barr alluded to this -- that's why the Federal budget for fiscal '93 calls for billion for our national drug control strategy. That's billion, nearly double the amount when we came into office in 1989. And the strategy does set ambitious goals. We hoped -- and these goals were set with the advice of many people here, some previously in the DEA and others with it now and with Justice -- to cut overall drug use by 10 percent. That's what we set as a goal. Well, we surpassed that target. We wanted to slash occasional cocaine use by 10 percent; it went down 29. Adolescent cocaine use, the goal was 30-percent decrease, and I'm pleased to tell you that it's down by about 60 percent.

We've begun well, you might say; but we've only just begun. Look at Bedford Stuy or other communities across the country, the suburbs of any city, the broken canyons of Los Angeles, and there you'll see some of more than 12 million Americans who currently still use drugs and the 1.9 million of them who still use cocaine. We are not making the progress that we want to in this addictive group, younger than the teenagers, but certainly not old enough to be retired in any way. And we must make more progress there. Worse, more than 1.3 million of our kids do use drugs. And I grieve for these families and these kids.

While Federal funding can help, it certainly, it alone, is not enough. And that's why this antidrug campaign includes community action led by effective treatment, Federal, State, and local, to reduce drug use in our neighborhoods and schools. We also need prevention through widespread education. And we need business and labor and our families and schools to stop the drugs that lead to the death and bondage, drugs that really declare open season on the innocent.

Next comes perhaps the most crucial part of the crusade, law enforcement. The DEA New York Field Division seized more than 4 million in criminal assets in one year, in fiscal year 1991. And you know that a country that refused to allow totalitarians of the right and of the left to enslave the world will never allow the evil purveyors of drugs to enslave America.

And let me tell you something: Every time law enforcement officials come to the White House, I think: How can we better support them? And so by January 1st we will have 50 percent more Federal prosecutors than in 1988. We've also reauthorized the 1984 Victims of Crime Act and boosted its annual crime victims fund to 0 million. Now, these dollars did not come from taxpayers but from the criminals' fines and penalties. After all, crime shouldn't pay; criminals should. And so we've moved to punish career criminals under the Federal Armed Career Criminal Act. No seasoned criminal should walk free because we didn't take the law and our law enforcement officers seriously.

Our administration has proposed .8 billion for anticrime policies for fiscal '93. And that's up 59 percent in 4 years. And yet, progress made is certainly not mission accomplished. Let's back up these law enforcement officials with laws that are fair, fast, and final.

You know what I'm talking about. Fair: When good cops act in good faith to nail criminals, those criminals should not go free because of some exclusionary rule technicality. Fast: We need habeas corpus reforms to stop the frivolous appeals choking our courts. Crime's victims must not suffer twice, once when they're victimized by the criminal and again when some liberal judge allows criminals to escape scot-free through some new loophole in the law. We also need laws that are final. I think my position is well-known on this, and I have no trouble defending it. For anyone who kills a law enforcement officer, no penalty is too tough. When drug kingpins inflict the ultimate evil on society, society demands that the ultimate penalty be inflicted on them.

Some say that legalization of drugs is the answer to drugs. And to that I say that we must never wave the white flag of surrender at the white scourge of cocaine.

So today I am again asking the United States Congress to pass crime legislation based on three principles: If criminals commit crimes, they'll be caught -- more law enforcement support. If caught, they will be tried -- more judges, more rapid going through the courts. And if convicted, they will be punished -- not let them out on loopholes. We need a crime bill which strengthens, not weakens, our ability to uphold the laws, a crime bill like the ``Crime Control Act of 1992.'' So let's pass this legislation and salute those who risk their lives to save ours.

And above all, let's remember this: To take back our streets we need to take criminals off the streets and put them behind bars for a long, long time. And in the past 4 years, over half a billion dollars in drug forfeiture money alone has been used to build prisons. And we need more, more prisons. In particular, our States need more prisons. Because for some career criminals, the iron bars of prison are the only bar against crime.

So, let me close with words from the heart about where and with whom I stand. I stand with those who fight criminals. Your work is not a 9-to-5 job with long lunches and friendly chats around some water cooler. It is filled with danger and fear. And I had two wonderful briefings on some of the complexities of this work when I arrived here this morning. It's not knowing whether you'll end your shift going home in a car or to the emergency room in an ambulance.

And let me just add something: I also stand against those who use films or records or television or video games to glorify killing law enforcement officers. It is sick. It is wrong for any company, I don't care how noble the name of the company, it is wrong for any company to issue records that approve of killing law enforcement officers.

And so I am delighted to be here to salute the greatest freedom fighters any nation could have, people who provide freedom from violence and freedom from drugs and freedom from fear. They're offering hope to every family across our country. And in that spirit, I am now truly honored to open the New York Field Division Office of the DEA. And again, especially to all who work out there on the front lines, may God bless you in your noble work.

Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:53 a.m. in the conference room at the DEA New York Field Division Office. In his remarks, he referred to Lee P. Brown, commissioner of the New York City Police Department; Msgr. William B. O'Brien, president of the Daytop Village drug treatment facility; Robert A. Bryden, Special Agent in Charge, DEA New York Field Division; and DEA Special Agent Everett E. Hatcher, who was killed in the line of duty on February 28, 1989.