THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Monday, May 15, 2000
PROTECTING AND HONORING OUR NATION'S LAW ENFORCEMENT
"Over 14,000 law enforcement officers have given their lives to protect the liberties upon which America was founded. We owe these brave men and women a debt of gratitude that is immeasurable and unending."
President Bill Clinton
Monday, May 15, 2000
Today, at the U.S.Capitol, President Clinton commemorated the 19th Annual Peace Officers Memorial by announcing new efforts to protect law enforcement officers and honor their extraordinary service. The President announced that to date, the Justice Department has funded over 92,000 armor vests for state and local police officers, and that $24 million in FY 2000 funding is available to double the current number of vests funded. The President also announced his support for legislation which would extend the Bulletproof Vest Program through FY 2004 and double the current level of authorized funding to $150 million, and issued a directive to the Attorney General for the creation of a Presidential award of valor to honor the extraordinary bravery and service of public safety officers.
Improving Officer Safety with Bulletproof Vests. In June 1998, President Clinton signed into law the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act to provide grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to purchase bulletproof vests for their officers. Under the Bulletproof Vest Program (BVP), the Justice Department pays up to 50 percent of the cost for vests purchased by law enforcement agencies. Today, the President announced:
- In its first year, the BVP helped state and local law enforcement purchase 92,500 bulletproof vests; and
- $24 million in FY 2000 funding is available from the Justice Department to fund another 90,000 or more vests. Police departments will be able to access grant funding to pay for new vests next month.
Supporting Legislation to Expand the Vest Program. The President announced his support for new legislation, sponsored by Senators Leahy and Campbell and Representative Visclosky, which would:
- Reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Program, which is set to expire in FY 2001, for another three years through FY 2004;
- Double the authorized funding from $75 million to $150 million; and
- Guarantee that the program will pay for the full 50 percent of the costs of bulletproof vests for jurisdictions of under 100,000 persons.
Creating a New Award to Honor Extraordinary Service. In addition to helping keep law enforcement safe, President Clinton believes we should honor the exceptional valor and sacrifice of our public safety officers. The President strongly supports legislation to create a medal of valor award to honor the officers who act above and beyond the call of duty. Unfortunately, the legislation has remained stalled for months. The President believes that public safety officers should not have to wait any longer to receive the recognition they deserve. Today, the President:
- issued a directive to the Attorney General to develop a plan to create - through Executive action - a Presidential award recognizing public safety officers who have exhibited extraordinary valor. Under the directive, the Attorney General will designate a group of experts representing all aspects of the public safety sector to provide input into the award.
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