Clinton Promotes Crime Bill at Ceremony for Slain Police With AM-Handgun Crimes
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Presiding over an emotional ceremony for slain police, President Clinton promoted his anti-crime package Sunday and said the greatest tribute to fallen police officers would be safer streets.
″We ought to rededicate ourselves to becoming a country worthy of the heroes we come here to honor,″ Clinton told about 4,000 people attending an annual memorial for officers who died in the line of duty.
With the Capitol grounds covered by blue uniforms, Clinton told friends, children and widows of slain police that he and Congress were working to get more police and fewer guns on the streets.
He mentioned the crime bill winding its way through Congress, which earmarks money for 100,000 new police officers, and heaped praise on the 216 House members who voted for a ban on assault weapons. The measure narrowly passed after intensive lobbying from police organizations.
″I hope all of you in law enforcement will go home to the districts of those 216 representatives without regard to their political party and stand up for them because they stood up for you,″ Clinton said. ″Many of them put their political lives on the line in the hopes that you would never have to put your life on the line.″
Clinton met with the families of two slain police officers before giving his speech. He stopped near the audience afterward to chat with Devin Cutugno, 11, and Trina Cutugno, 9, of Staten Island, N.Y., grandchildren of an officer killed in 1964. Turning way from the wheelchair-bound children, Clinton wiped a tear from his eye.
″We pay tribute not only to those who have died but to those who have lost them,″ he said during his speech.
And he commended living officers ″who still go to work every day not knowing for sure if that day they will be required to make the ultimate sacrifice.″
The president tailored much of his speech to the officers, urging them to touch the lives of youths. ″There are so many kids in this country in so much trouble. They need you,″ Clinton said.
″We must determine that we are going to become a less violent, less dangerous, less crime-ridden, more hopeful, more unified society,″ the president said. ″We owe that to the people who we will honor today.″