Remarks to the 54th General Assembly of Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization

October 2, 1985

I wanted to stop by briefly today and extend my good wishes to each of you. The United States is honored and proud that you would choose our Capital as the site of your convention. And we're especially pleased that you have extended to one of our distinguished public servants, John Simpson, the privilege of serving as your president.

John, who is a good friend, will tell you, if he hasn't already, about the priority that our administration has placed on the war against the crime syndicates -- syndicates that in recent years have grown in power and sophistication. Here in the United States, for example, prosecutions of traditional organized crime families, as well as some of the newer groups of drugs traders, have gone up dramatically. And for the first time, we feel we're making significant headway. In addition to dramatically increasing the number of prosecutors and Federal agents working in these areas, we have taken many other steps. One of them is our Presidential Commission on Organized Crime, which is currently working with your member nations to bring to light problems like money laundering, especially its international dimensions. And that word ``international'' is, of course, the point. Whether it's organized crime, narcotics trafficking, terrorism, or any other area of criminal activity, the increasing sophistication and power of criminal syndicates calls for a response from those who are pledged to uphold the law and protect society from the hardened criminal. And this is the work of Interpol.

You know, I'm sure a good many of you've heard of that international celebrity, Inspector Maigret -- the celebrated French detective from the pen of Georges Simenon, who in so many of his stories relied on information from his counterparts in other police forces throughout the world to solve his cases. Well, as is often the case, fiction does reflect reality. It is Interpol that institutionalizes and makes vastly easier those professional contacts and vital exchanges of information that each of you needs to serve the people of your country. Interpol's record of achievement in these areas is unparalleled, and let me stress today that the United States Government pledges to you and your organization its full support.

And now, if you will permit, I'd like to leave you on a personal note. You know, I've spoken to many law enforcement groups throughout my time in public life, and I doubt that I have ever failed to mention that yours is one of the most difficult of any profession in civilized society. And yet there is no work more vital to the safety and freedom of your fellow citizens. The nature of your work frequently brings you in contact with your fellow citizens when they have been victimized by crime or committed a crime themselves. So frequently you see people only when they're hurting or in trouble. I hope you will not permit this to discourage you too much about human nature or to change your perspective on society as a whole. I hope you will remember that not only are most people upstanding and law-abiding citizens, but they are also on your side in the fight against lawlessness and are very grateful to you for the work you do. And that's why I think there is great cause for hope in the war against crime.

Georges Simenon has also said that sometimes ``the truth is too simple for intellectuals.'' Well, we all remember a time when some elaborate theories excusing criminal wrongdoing were very fashionable, a time when there was a great loss of will in apprehending and bringing to justice professional wrongdoers. And now all of this is changing. Increasingly, the people of my own country and yours are coming to appreciate again the truth of old verities like: Right and wrong do matter, individuals should be held accountable for their actions, and society has the right to be protected from those who prey on the innocent.

This trend is no better evidenced than in the growth and renewed strength of Interpol. So, again, I want to pledge the American people's full support. And I want to wish each of you well in your professional lives, in your stay here in the United States; and I want to convey to you the warmest welcome and the kindest regards of the American people. And thank you for letting me have these few minutes with you here. God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 11:27 a.m. at the Departmental Auditorium. John R. Simpson was Director of the United States Secret Service.