Remarks at a White House Ceremony Honoring Law Enforcement Officers Slain in the War on Drugs
The President. Well, thank you all for your greeting this morning, and welcome reverend clergy, Nancy, Attorney General Meese, Members of the Congress, diplomats, and members of our Cabinet, and distinguished guests.
Today we're gathered to honor, as you've been told, the brave public servants who have fallen in the war on drugs. These men took a solemn oath to uphold the law. They accepted the dangerous work of defending our communities, our borders, our families from the scourge of narcotics. And in the line of duty, these courageous citizen soldiers paid the ultimate price. Some died close to home in the towns where they were born. Others fell in foreign lands. But they were each lost to us far too soon. And they each made their love for this country and for us, their countrymen, something real that they lived each day.
and in days to come, it'll be our turn to show our love for them. We can show
our love by teaching our children to just say no to drugs, by teaching them to
choose life, by helping them to live in the world God made, not in an
artificial, drug-induced world of false hopes and permanent darkness, of
imaginary freedom, but absolute slavery.
sort of a nation is
Camarena Salazar, special agent of the Drug
Enforcement Administration, was conducting an undercover investigation in
McNett, a detective in the Sedgwick County, Kansas,
sheriff's office, was part of a team raiding the house of an alleged crack
For these men and for all men and women in this country and around the world who've perished in the war on drugs, I would like to ask that we observe a moment of silence on this solemn occasion. Would you join me?
We rededicate ourselves to continue their struggle. It's a struggle of which we've all been a part and one in which we've worked together.
want to pay special tribute to the many sacrifices made by our international
allies in this fight. In
When I spoke to our nation's police chiefs 7 years ago, we pledged a united effort against the menace of illegal drugs. And since then, important progress has been made. Since 1981 the antidrug law enforcement budget has tripled, and another 13 percent increase has been requested. No-nonsense Federal judges are part of the war on crime. Drug convictions have more than doubled since 1979, with prison sentences 40 percent longer. And last year new, tougher sentencing guidelines were issued. The Comprehensive Crime Control Act, passed in 1984 after a long effort -- passed with the help of Members of the Congress who are here today -- they helped put drug dealers out of business by confiscating their assets. Last year over $500 million in ill-gotten assets were seized. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which I signed into law in October, 1986, contributed additional tools to our effort.
antidrug effort spans the Federal Government. It is
coordinated by the Cabinet-level National Drug Policy Board chaired by Attorney
General Meese. The coordination of Federal, State,
local, and international drug enforcement is at an all-time high. Under the
leadership of the Vice President, our national drug interdiction system has
enabled unprecedented levels of narcotics to be seized enroute
from source countries and at our border by law enforcement agencies. These
efforts were significantly assisted by the
Drug eradication programs are now underway in 23 countries. That's up from just two in 1981. And to stem demand for illegal drugs, more funds than ever before are being spent on drug education and public awareness, and I've requested a further 12-percent increase in that.
can list the accomplishments in this war, but by themselves these efforts,
impressive as they may seem, are still not enough. It'll never be enough until
we have fully honored the memory of those who have perished and until we have
won for them, and for ourselves, a drug free
especially proud of the antidrug work that
And tragically, countless thousands of young lives were needlessly destroyed. The truth was that drugs are killers, but for nearly a generation that vital message was ignored by a whole group of people who should have known better. The leaders of that destructive generation remain the forgotten accomplices in the epidemic of illegal drug use; they cannot escape blame when a law enforcement officer dies in the battle.
good news is that
Today reports that in
Six months ago, I sent to the Congress a new and important piece of legislation, the Criminal Justice Reform Act of 1987, that would provide a powerful new deterrent to violent crime and narcotics trafficking. This critical legislation takes on the drug syndicates on their own terms. It says that when narcotics racketeers kill and are convicted they will face execution. In 1986 the House of Representatives twice approved this provision, but this year neither the House nor the Senate Judiciary Committees have yet taken up this bill. It is time to back up the rhetoric on the drug problem with action. And I call upon the House and Senate to vote promptly on my bill providing for capital punishment when a death results from drug dealing and when a DEA or other law enforcement officer is murdered. When drug syndicates commit murder, our sympathy should be with the victims, not the killers. It's time for the Congress to pass this bill and make it law. It's time for us to send our own message to people who kill cops.
antidrug efforts are working. The heroic sacrifices
the crusade for a drug free
Attorney General Meese. Thank you, Mr. President, for those inspiring remarks, which highlight our being here today. In your remarks you mentioned the heroes we are commemorating. Among those are two agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, one of the key institutions in our struggle against drug abuse. We're pleased to have representing our drug law enforcement organizations, Jack Lawn, the Administrator of DEA, seated here on the dais. Jack has been honored recently by his election as president of the International Drug Enforcement Conference.
had a tragedy in the DEA recently, when two special agents, Paul Seema and George Montoya, were killed in the course of a
heroin investigation near
Mr. Martinez. First of all, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all my friends, family, and everyone in the DEA family, and all the other law enforcement officers and community for their support while I was hospitalized, and the general public for their encouragement to me -- all the letters I received. And I would also like to thank everyone for the encouragement that was shown to the loved ones of my slain fellow agents, Paul Seema and George Montoya. I am thankful for the greater public concern about drug abuse. And thank you, Mr. President and Mrs. Reagan, for your contributions to this awareness.
Those of us in drug enforcement are committed to the task of removing drugs from our society, knowing and accepting the dangers involved. At the same time, many in society rationalize the drug use as being a victimless crime and not harmful to anyone. Paul Seema and George Montoya were victims of society's demand to satisfy their desire for drugs. Not until people quit using drugs will it become safer for those of us in law enforcement and the rest of society. Thank you.
The President. The Attorney General tells me I can just conclude it. [Laughter] I didn't bring a whistle, and I can't think of a good get-off line, except I think that what we have just heard from this young man, his lovely wife -- I think all of us know what's at stake here. And I think all of us are going to continue doing this until it's a chapter of our history that we can look back upon, but know that we'll never see that chapter repeated again in our nation's history. God bless you all. Thank you for what you're doing.
Note: The President
spoke at in Room 450 of the