Every year, too many police officers make the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe. I believe we must do more than build monuments to honor their memories -- we must take action -- action to prevent more needless, tragic deaths, action to continue the work these brave men and women gave their lives to do, and above all, action to help the families they leave behind.
Today at the White House, President Clinton will sign two bills, one to honor law enforcement killed in the line of duty by providing college scholarships to their families; and a second to strengthen penalties for violent criminals and drug traffickers who possess, brandish, or discharge a gun when committing a crime.
Honoring Our Fallen Police Officers. On October 3, 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Federal Law Enforcement Dependent Assistance Act (FLEDA). The law provides higher education benefits for the spouses and children of Federal law enforcement officers killed or disabled in the line of duty. Last fall, 11 young men and women were able to go to college as a result of the Act. Last year, President Clinton called on Congress to pass legislation to provide similar educational assistance to the families of state and local law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Today, President Clinton will sign the Police, Fire, and Emergency Officers Educational Assistance Act of 1998, which:
Enforcing Tougher Punishments. The President will also sign S. 191, a bill that clarifies and strengthens the federal penalties that apply to violent criminals and drug felons who commit crimes while carrying a gun. Prior to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, courts had applied a broad interpretation of what constituted "use" of a firearm during the commission of a federal crime. The Supreme Court narrowed that interpretation allowing, for example, drug traffickers with guns in their car trunks to avoid the 5-year mandatory minimum sentences intended by Congress. This new law makes clear that violent criminals and drug felons who simply possess a firearm in furtherance of a federal crime are subject to an additional -- and mandatory -- sentence of 5 years. This legislation also increases the stiff, mandatory penalties that apply to criminals who actually use firearms during the commission of certain federal crimes. Specifically, this new law provides that --in addition to the penalties that apply for underlying violent or drug crimes:
A Strong Record Of Law Enforcement And Crime Reduction. Since 1993, President Clinton has made law enforcement and crime fighting a top priority:
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