From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
PHILADELPHIA -- Clinton is taking a page from her husband's playbook, today announcing a plan to put 100,000 new police officers on America's streets as part of her anti-crime agenda.
The plan would set a goal of cutting the murder rate in cities with high or rising murder rates in half. The time frame for doing so would vary by city, from as little as five years to longer than that. Her proposals would cost an estimated $4 billion a year and would be financed with savings gained from eliminating outdated corporate subsidies.
"We've got to get back to doing what works. I'm old-fashioned about that. I think you should actually look for solutions to problems -- find out what works and execute. Enough with the talking, enough with the speeches, enough with the rhetoric," she told a group gathered in a gymnasium at the YMCA. "At its core, this agenda is about responsibility. It's about the federal government fulfilling its responsibility to help restore order in our communities, to pave the way for economic development and new jobs and to help families feel safe here at home."
Under her plan, Clinton would implement programs to help at-risk youth, fight gangs, drugs and online crime, and invest $1 billion in a grant program aimed at reducing the number of repeat offenders and the prison population's size. She talked about what has worked to bring down crime rates in New York -- from old-fashioned police work and innovative technologies, to youth intervention initiatives and partnerships with law enforcement, clergy, citizens' groups, parents, social service providers, and even gang members.
The former first lady said crime was reduced to "historic lows" during the 1990s and noted the violent crime rate went up two years in a row -- in 2005 and 2006 -- for the first time since the Clinton Crime Bill of 1994 was passed. Bill Clinton instituted a cops program during his administration to help reduce crime. The senator said her own cops program would be modernized to address homeland security and other issues.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter highlighted the importance of a federal government that works with cities to deal with crime. "In the '90s, we had a wonderful partnership with the federal government," he said during his introduction. "The first President Clinton helped us put police officers on the street. Here in Philadelphia, we put 750 more officers on the street because of the help we received from the federal government."
The gun issue
Nutter often cites what he calls Clinton's ability to understand how to deal with the problems facing big cities as a reason he supports her. The New York senator's crime-fighting plan includes an anti-gun-trafficking initiative that would be based on partnerships between the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and local law enforcement to improve tracking of gun crimes and to prosecute traffickers. It would renew the Assault Weapons Ban and repeal the Tiahrt amendment, which limits the ATF's ability to share federal gun-trace data with local law enforcement.
Nutter signed five new gun-control laws yesterday that would limit handgun purchases in the city to one a month and require that lost or stolen firearms be reported to police within 24 hours, among other measures. The new laws are controversial because gun regulation is under the state's purview, not the city's. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the National Rifle Association plans to sue.
Gun control as an issue has not come up very frequently with Clinton on the campaign trail, but it could be important here in Pennsylvania, a state with a lot of gun owners. In the lead-up to the Wisconsin primary, she made a point of talking about learning to shoot a gun and her experience hunting. She often says she supports the 2nd Amendment and she believes her cities and states have a role to play in confronting the challenges presented by firearms. But it was not clear whether she would support the Nutter measures specifically or these kinds of measures generally. When asked during an interview with local radio this morning about what she would do as president to address the issue of cities and gun regulation, she gave her standard answer before going on talk up the proposals in her anti-crime agenda.
"I would start looking for a balance and find some common ground and end the polarization that has gone on," she said. "Obviously, I take the issue of gun crime and gun violence very seriously, and I'm also committed to protecting people's constitutional rights under the 2nd Amendment to own and bear arms and I don't see why we can't do both."
In this morning's speech, Clinton noted that white-collar crime cost people their pensions and their jobs and contributed to the economic woes communities face. As president, she would pledge to pursue corporate criminals like street criminals, directing her attorney general to conduct a 90-day review of all deferred prosecution agreements and report on how to strengthen prosecution efforts against corporate wrongdoers.
After the speech, Clinton stopped by a senior citizens' aerobics class and briefly danced along with the mostly minority group to a song with lyrics that included "we gone have a funky good time."