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President Praises Cops, Promotes Criminal Justice Reform and Tougher Gun Laws at IACP Conference

President Obama delivered a lengthy and wide-ranging speech this week at a meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in Chicago.

The President opened his speech by thanking law enforcement officers and acknowledging the simultaneous gathering taking place in New York City, where Officer Randolph Holder was being honored for his line-of-duty death last week while pursuing a criminal suspect.

“This country is safer because of your efforts,” the President told the crowd to applause, noting that in the past twenty years “police have helped cut the violent crime rate and the homicide rate in America by almost half.”

“It’s an astonishing statistic,” remarked the President, citing statistics that today “Americans are nearly half as likely to be the victim of an aggravated assault, and less than half as likely to be the victim of a robbery.”

The President did not paper over issues, such as racial biases and injustices that sometime appear in the criminal justice system, but said that “too often, law enforcement gets scapegoated for the broader failures of our society and criminal justice system.”

He touted efforts the Administration has taken to ensure local police forces have received funding to keep cops on the street and providing equipment and training. He also promoted efforts to encourage community policing and the work of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing he convened.

The President also continued his push to see criminal justice reform legislation move forward, noting his support for bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate. Criminal justice reform is a topic the President has frequently spoken on (October 17 weekly address; White House support for reform legislation in Congress).   

In doing so, the President made clear that he felt plenty of criminals currently in jail belong there.

“I don’t have sympathy for dangerous, violent offenders.  I don't have sympathy for folks who are preying on children,” the President said.  “Violence is real in this city and around the country.  And I've seen firsthand the devastation the drug trade has wrought on individual lives and entire communities, and I believe that those who peddle drugs need to be punished.  I don't think decriminalization is some panacea.”

However, the President cited statistics that “right now, America is home to less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but about 25 percent of its prisoners,” and his opinion that “it is possible for us to come up with strategies that effectively reduce the damage of the drug trade without relying solely on incarceration,” citing examples of Texas, South Carolina, California, and Connecticut.  

The President also continued his push for common sense gun reform, saying “to make our communities safer and to make our officers safer, we’ve got to make it harder for criminals to cause chaos by getting their hands on deadly firearms.”

The entire text of the President’s remarks at IACP can be accessed here, and a video of the speech here.  

Posted in General News

Tags: Senate

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