Statement of Governor Ronald Reagan on Crime

 

January 16, 1967

 

To the Senate and Assembly of the Legislature of California:

 

Legislation is being introduced in the Senate and Assembly today that represents a comprehensive “crime and law enforcement” package.

 

This package is an effort to strengthen “soft spots” in the state’s laws and crime prevention programs.

 

California is the leading state in terms of major crimes.  On a percentage basis, we have nearly twice our share – nine percent of the population and about 17 percent of the crime.

 

We are convinced that enactment of this proposed legislation will help deter crime, will slow the flood of pornographic material now available on our newsstands, will speed and strengthen the administration of justice and will assure California citizens the best and most efficient law enforcement agencies in the nation.

 

We are asking for this legislation:

 

1.  An effective law to restore to the cities and counties the ability to enact local laws designed to meet local problems.  This is commonly referred to as the “implied pre-emption issue.”

 

Such a law will allow local law enforcement agencies to more thoroughly police their jurisdictions, especially in the areas of vice, sex offenses and offenses against public decency.

 

2.  Laws increasing penalties for the criminals who, during the commission of either a robbery, burglary or rape, inflict great bodily harm upon their victims using dangerous weapons.  Society must be protected from those who would inflict personal violence on its members.  Three measures identical to those to be introduced today were passed by both houses of the Legislature in 1965 but were pocket-vetoed.

 

3.  As mentioned earlier, comprehensive legislation dealing with pornography and obscenity, with special emphasis on prohibiting dissemination to minors of “harmful” material.  A careful effort is being made to avoid any suspicion of censorship.

 

4.  We recognize that from time to time persons are arrested unjustly or as victims of circumstances.  Yet, despite, their innocence, they must live the remainder of their lives with a public police record.  We are offering a comprehensive legislative approach that will provide relief for such persons while, at the same time, preserving such records for use by law enforcement agencies and other authorized persons.

 

5.  We are also proposing that a California Crime Foundation be created as a public corporation.  Such a Foundation would be financed and served by both the private and public sectors.

 

Its purpose will be to develop a coordinated state, local and private effort that would develop new scientific techniques to combat crime, initiate research projects in the area of police management, administration and basic research in the field of crime, and encourage engineers and scientists to devote themselves to careers in crime research.

 

Financing would be accomplished by channeling to the Foundation funds now appropriated for certain existing state law enforcement efforts and by private foundations and the business community.

 

6.  It is imperative to seek and maintain the highest standards of judicial excellence in order to make sure that all our citizens receive equal justice under the law.  For that reason, legislation is being presented which will assure the Governor the opportunity to name only the most qualified attorneys to the bench.

 

Five of the above six proposals must be passed by the Legislature to make them effective.  The proposal on the selection of judges must be approved by a vote of the people as it is an amendment to the Constitution.

 

However, the Governor’s Office, by executive action, expects to take one more step in the near future that will ease the law enforcement burden that rests on our various crime-fighting agencies.

 

From time to time, statewide conferences will be called as a means of making the public more aware of the crime problem and the citizen more cognizant of his responsibilities.  Such conferences will be attended by members of the mass communications media, local civic and political leaders, students and other interested citizens.

 

Without respect for the law, the best laws cannot be effective.  Without respect for law enforcement, laws cannot be carried out.  We must have respect, not only for the law, but also for the many who dedicate their lives to the protection of society through enforcement of the law.