Monday, December 14, 1998
I'm delighted to be here today, to make two important new announcements about our efforts to fight crime, drugs, and violence -- by harnessing the powerful new technology of the 21st Century to meet the oldest threats to our safety and well-being.
Just yesterday, we gained new evidence that rising crime rates are no longer a fact of life in America. According to preliminary crime data released by the FBI, crime rates are continuing to decline for the seventh straight year. In the first six months of 1998, serious crime fell by another 5 percent -- with large reductions in murder and other violent crimes leading the way. If these trends hold for the rest of the year, the number of murders will have been cut by almost one-third since President Clinton and I took office.
This dramatic reduction didn't happen by accident. It took uncommon valor from our men and women in blue. And it took a new national crime-fighting strategy, merging elements that had never before been combined: more community police, who walk the sidewalks and establish relationships with every shop owner and every parent; tougher punishment, which means locking up repeat offenders for good, and getting gangs, guns, and drugs off the streets; and smarter prevention -- giving our children safe, supervised places to learn and play when their parents are still at work.
We're here to focus on the first part of that strategy -- community policing. With today's announcement, we will have funded the addition of more than 92,000 community police. In fact, we are under budget and ahead of schedule as we meet our goal of adding 100,000 police officers to the beat by the year 2000.
But community policing isn't just about hiring more officers; it's also about giving our police the 21st Century tools and technology that get them out from behind their desks, put them back on the beat, and help them fight crime better and faster.
This new crime-fighting technology is working, all across the country. In Los Angeles, police now have laptop computers, so they can file reports from their cars and spend less time back in the office. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, officers have instant access to databases of criminal records, and information on everything from domestic violence to alcohol abuse, so that when they respond to a call, they are better informed, and much more effective.
If we want to keep crime rates going down, we must make sure law enforcement across the country can make the most of these important advances. And today, I am proud to announce a major new step toward putting these cutting-edge crime-fighting tools in the hands of American law enforcement. Today, we are providing nearly $93 million in grants to fund new technology in communities all across America. With these crucial funds, law enforcement in 44 states can not only fight crime better, they can also redeploy more than 3,700 officers -- putting them out in the communities, where they can do the most to crack down on crime.
Let me tell you how some of these "COPS MORE" grants will be used. In Guilford County, North Carolina, our grants will fund a computer-aided dispatch system to map crime, deploy officers more quickly, and help officers fill out reports on the spot. In New Haven, Connecticut, these funds will help create an automatic vehicle location system, so dispatchers know exactly how long it will take for police to arrive on the scene. In Davenport, Bettendorf, and Scott County, Iowa, these grants will enable law-enforcement to perform instant background checks without returning to headquarters -- saving critical minutes on the job. And in Sheriff Sullivan's Arapahoe County, Colorado, these new resources will give investigators new computer work-stations, so they can electronically file cases with their local D.A.'s office.
I have been especially impressed by the success of what we call "crime mapping" as a crime fighting tool. It helps police combine real-time information about crime on the streets with the resources to find the criminals and prevent future crime. It has been a big success in my home state of Tennessee, where Knoxville police recently used computerized mapping to compare rape locations and the residences of known sex offenders -- ultimately catching a serial rapist. And it has worked in rural communities like McClean County, Missouri, where it enabled law enforcement to analyze and stop a series of farm burglaries.
In fact, the dramatic success of crime mapping has now been documented in this new Crime Mapping Case Studies Report, just published by the Justice Department and the Police Executive Research Forum.
Because of the enormous potential of crime mapping, I am pleased to announce today that our Justice Department will provide special training in crime mapping to any law enforcement agency in the nation that wants it. Today, we are providing not just the tools but also the training to help American law enforcement fight crime and violence.
There is a simple reason we are investing in these highly effective, 21st Century crime-fighting tools. Even a single crime in America is one too many. Even a single family threatened by violence is unacceptable. As crime and criminals become more sophisticated, we are committed to giving law enforcement the tools to match them, to defeat them, and to make our communities as safe as they possibly can be.
That's what these new investments are all about. By hiring more community police, and by putting powerful new resources into the hands of those police, we will bring the crime rate down even lower, and build the stronger, safer future our families deserve. Thank you.