Politics & Government

Clinton urges $4 billion to fight crime; focuses on cities

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is expected to unveil a $4 billion anti-crime package Friday in which she vows to reduce city murder rates by 50 percent within five years, put an additional 100,000 cops on the streets and shrink prison populations.

Clinton will outline her plan in a speech in Philadelphia, a city that recorded 392 homicides last year. Clinton campaign officials say her plan is mix of policies created during Bill Clinton's presidency and new ideas such as anti-gang initiatives.

"At its core, my agenda is about responsibility," Clinton will say Friday, according to advance text of her remarks. "It's about the federal government living up to its responsibility to help restore order in our communities, pave the way for economic development and new jobs, and help our families feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods."

She maintains that she could cut homicide rates in cities by increasing the number of police on the street, reducing gang violence and by cracking down on illegal gun trafficking.

To do so, Clinton says she will create what she dubs COPS 2.0, a revamp of President Clinton's program that added 100,000 police officers to the nation's law enforcement ranks.

She would return to that goal of 100,000 new officers and also would help local law enforcement agencies buy equipment and fund counter-terrorism programs.

Clinton campaign officials say the new plan would differ from President Clinton's by putting a greater focus on "intelligence-led policing" that would target the most serious threats and dangerous criminals.

To address street gang violence, Clinton will call for federal grants to implement community anti-gang programs.

Campaign officials said the anti-gang initiative will be modeled on programs developed in cities like Boston, Chicago and Cincinnati, where police work closely with community leaders to discourage gang activity.

To reduce repeat offenders in America's prisons, Clinton proposes spending $1 billion to create or expand drug courts and mental health courts, and revamp the juvenile justice system.

The money would also be used to double the number of federally funded after-school and youth mentoring programs.

Clinton said she would pay for her initiative by slashing corporate subsidies.

Crime has not been a front-burner issue in the 2008 campaign, but it has been a concern in major cities and small towns that have seen spikes in gang violence and in some categories of violent crime after years of steady declines.

Many law enforcement officials complained in 2006 when the Bush administration cut funding or eliminated crime-fighting programs like COPS, warning that crime could rise as a result.

Clinton is expected to criticize Bush's handling of crime in her Philadelphia speech. Her advance text calls it "a sad day in America when the president can find hundreds of billions of dollars to police another country's civil war, but cut funding for police officers right here at home."