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Clinton Honors Police Officers

October 21, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton honored nearly three dozen police officers for outstanding service to their communities Thursday, and he used the Rose Garden ceremony to press Republicans to pass his crime-fighting measures this year.

Trumpeting the decline in violent crime during his administration and linking it to his program to put 100,000 community police officers on the streets, the president lambasted GOP lawmakers for resisting his proposal to continue the program.

``Now this doesn’t make any sense to me. If you’ve got a problem that you’re solving ... and we’ve got the money to do it, why would you choose to spend the money on something else instead of making America the safest big country in the world?″ Clinton said. ``If Congress sends me a crime-fighting bill that’s a crime-spending bill that doesn’t have the right priorities, I will have to veto it.″

The president spoke at a ceremony honoring the 32 recipients of this year’s National Association of Police Organizations sixth annual ``Top Cops″ award. The honorees included officers who rescued fellow officers while under fire, subdued assailants after being shot and wounded and evacuated 200 people from an apartment building before a gas explosion.

``They have performed astonishing acts of valor and humanity,″ Clinton said.

Among the guests was actor Yaphet Kotto, who played a commander on the TV drama ``Homicide.″ Kotto’s son, Frederick Samuel Kotto, 30, a police officer in San Jose was named for Kotto’s uncle, who was killed in the 1950s while on duty as a New York City police detective.

``I’ve got a son out there driving a police car, and I don’t want anything to happen to him,″ he said, urging lawmakers to fund Clinton’s anti-crime proposals. ``This is not a game out there. These guys, while they’re sitting around politicizing it, people are out there actually risking their lives. I don’t want to go to my son’s funeral.″

The honorees were: Alaska State Trooper Barry Croy; Los Angeles police officers Andy Azodi, Jude Bella, Ryan Clark, Chris Dunn, Kevin J. Foster, Craig Schofield Hewitt and Chris Yzaguirre; Connecticut state troopers Michael Allard, Michael J. Hoague, Mark Pelletier and James E. Reidy Jr.; Chicago police Sgt. James McMullin; Detroit police officers James Henry Lightfoot Jr., Gasper Rossi and Steven Louis Sosa, and Sgts. Michael Stefani and James Tolbert and Lt. Arthur McNamara; St. Joseph, Mo., police Sgts. Terry R. White, Steven Gumm and Billy Paul Miller, and officers Rebecca Caton, Roy W. Wedlow Jr., Henry Castaneda Pena and Shawn Hamre; Jersey City, N.J., police Sgt. Heriberto Carattini; Poughkeepsie, N.Y., police Sgt. Karl Skip Mannain; Johnston, R.I., police Sgt. Michael Calenda and officer Thomas H. Dolan; U.S. Park Service police officers Robert Louis Freeman III and Kevin J. Nieves.

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