Honoring Extraordinary Valor of our Public Safety Officers, May 15, 2000

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 15, 2000

May 15, 2000


SUBJECT: Honoring Extraordinary Valor
of our Public Safety Officers

Over the past 7 years, the cooperative efforts of law enforcement officers on the Federal, State, and local level have resulted in dramatic declines in our crime rate. I am proud of the key initiatives my Administration has proposed and supported that have given law enforcement officers the resources they need to fight crime. Through our Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, we have funded the hiring of over 100,000 more police officers to work at the local level to build partnerships and combat crime. We have fought for tools to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and passed the Brady Law that has stopped over half a million felons, fugitives, and domestic abusers from buying guns. We have taken more criminals off the street with tougher penalties and we have helped States build more prisons to keep dangerous criminals behind bars. And we have given our young people positive alternatives to prevent crime in the first place.

As a result of our crime-fighting strategy and the cooperative efforts of law enforcement at the Federal, State, and local level, America has experienced dramatic declines in our crime rate. The overall crime rate has dropped for the eighth year in a row, the longest continuous decline on record. The national homicide rate is at its lowest level in over 30 years. By making crime prevention, reduction, and prosecution a top priority, we have created a renewed sense of security in our Nation's cities, towns, and neighborhoods.

This extraordinary record of success has not come without a heavy cost. Every day, the brave men and women of law enforce-ment put themselves on the front line of our battle to reduce crime. Each year, there are countless acts of individual courage and heroism by officers in the field. Although the majority of these acts do not result in any permanent disability or death, sadly, each year we mourn the loss of those who sacrificed their lives for this cause. The annual Police Week and National Peace

Officers Memorial Day commemorations allow all Americans to pay tribute to the brave men and women of law enforcement. Few among us are put in the daily jeopardy that peace officers can find themselves in during even seemingly routine policing activity. To find examples of this courage, we need to look nofurther than the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial where the names of more than 14,000 officers who gave their lives to protect ours are carved in stone and memorialized for the ages.

In order to recognize the exemplary work carried out by public safety officers at all levels of government, the Congress should immediately pass legislation to create a Medal of Valor for exceptional valor and courage demonstrated by our public safety officers. Unfortunately, such legislation has remained stalled for months.

These heroes should not have to wait any longer for the recognition they deserve. So as we await the passage of legislation, I hereby direct you to develop a plan to create a Presidential award through Executive action to recognize public safety officers who have exhibited extraordinary valor above and beyond the call of duty. The award shall be awarded annually by the President. In developing this plan, where appropriate, you should consult with other relevant Government departments and agencies. The plan should designate a group of experts representing all aspects of the public safety sector, management, and labor, including law enforcement officers, fire-fighters, and emergency services officers who will submit written recommendations to you of candidates who exemplify the valor this award recognizes. Further, the plan should establish criteria for recommending nominees for the award of valor, as well as the design of the award itself. I direct you to report back to me with this plan within 30 days.

All Americans can feel pride in the work done each and every day by those who promise to protect and serve. It is my hope that with the creation of this award of valor the efforts of public safety officers are more publicly recognized and appreciated by our Nation.


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