Presiding over an emotional ceremony for slain police officers, President Clinton promoted his anti-crime package Sunday and said the greatest tribute to fallen 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 officers 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 officers, and heaped praise on the 216 House members who voted for a ban on assault weapons.
Clinton met with the families of two slain officers before his speech. He stopped afterward to chat with Devin Cutugno, 11, and Trina Cutugno, 9, of Staten Island, N.Y., grandchildren of an officer killed in 1964. Turning from the children, who were in wheelchairs, Clinton wiped a tear from his eye.
The President also 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.”
“We recognize that there should be capital punishment for people who kill law enforcement officials in the line of duty,” Clinton said to applause from the crowd.
But, he said, the United States also had to “use law enforcement officials in the work of prevention,” such as in programs where they visit schools and try to “keep young people away from crime in the first place.”
“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.”