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Bush Stages Send-Off for Crime Bills : Lawmen Applaud Promise 'to Stand Up for Police Officers'

June 15, 1989|From Associated Press

GLYNCO, Ga. — President Bush, promising "to stand up for the police officers," formally sent Congress a $1.2-billion anti-crime package today proposing tougher sentences for gun-related crimes and construction of more prisons.

Praising law officers as "domestic freedom fighters," Bush said, "Let's put the handcuffs on the criminals, not on the criminal justice system."

On the other hand, Bush said a person suspected of a crime "should be treated with respect and given his rights or her rights, even though the evidence looks overwhelming."

Unveiled a Month Ago

Bush unveiled his anti-crime program a month ago but decided to make a special occasion out of the usually routine transmittal of the plan to Congress. He flew nearly 1,000 miles to southeast Georgia to sign the draft legislation at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, where agents and police officers from 60 agencies and every state are enrolled.

A crowd of several thousand people, mostly students, instructors and their families, listened to Bush's speech under a baking sun.

Repeating a warning to criminals that he made earlier this year at the funeral of murdered Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Everett Hatcher in New York, Bush said, "Better that you had never been born than to attack one of America's finest."

3 Central Planks of Program

He was applauded loudly as he outlined three of the central planks of his anti-crime platform: doubling to 10 years the mandatory term for use of semiautomatic weapons in crimes involving violence or drugs; eliminating plea-bargaining for violent federal firearms offenses, and an expanded federal death penalty for killers and terrorists.

The most costly part of Bush's plan calls for spending $1 billion for new prison construction, in addition to $500 million already earmarked for that purpose.

He also proposed hiring 825 new federal agents and staff and 1,600 new prosecutors and staff.

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