House supports anti-crime bill



WASHINGTON (AP)—Prodded by voter anger over crime, the House gave its endorsement Wednesday to deployment of an additional 50,000 police on America’s streets.

Four other anti-crime measures awaited passage later in the day, to be followed this month by debate on legislation requiring a five-day waiting period for handgun purchases.

The administration supports all the measures, although President Clinton campaigned last year on a platform calling for 100,000 new police.

Approval for additional officers came by voice vote. The measure authorizes—but does not fund—$3.45 billion for beefed up police forces over the next six years. Clinton wants to use the savings from a year-end round of spending cuts to finance the anti-crime initiative.

The House was expected to give quick approval to four other bills despite grumblings from some Republicans who said the measures were relatively insignificant, They would require drug treatment for federal prisoners, authorize $400 million in grants for boot camp and other alternative punishments for young offenders, support programs to reduce gang activities and drug trafficking by juveniles, and provide drug treatment for state prison inmates.

Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., said the bills limited Congress to ‘‘nibbling around the edges of a major problem.’‘ He contended the ‘‘five minimalist bills … won’t bring anybody to their knees unless they’re praying for safety.’‘

But Rep. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and chairman of the House Judiciary crime panel, argued that the measures before the House were ‘‘the meat of the crime bill itself.’‘

‘‘These bills are not controversial … but that doesn’t make them any less important to our constituencies who are crying out’‘ for action, Schumer said.

Rep. Mike Synar, D-Okla., said of community police increases: ‘‘This is perhaps the top priority of law enforcement and citizens throughout this country. … The higher the visibility of law enforcement, the less likely a crime will be committed.’‘

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., the crime subcommittee’s ranking Republican, criticized the bills for not actually appropriating money, saying they ‘‘unjustifiably increase the expectations of our constituents that something is being done to combat the crime problem.’‘

Momentum for year-end crime legislation was renewed on Tuesday in odd-year elections.

Former prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican, was elected mayor of New York City, and in election-day interviews, 39 percent of voters said crime was the most important issue in the election. In addition, 56 percent of the voters said the city was less safe than four years ago.

In New Jersey, 31 percent of voters contacted for polling-place interviews identified crime or gun control as the issues that mattered most, just behind economic concerns.

The House began its work as Senate Republicans balked at consideration of a far broader anti-crime measure that incorporated much that was in the House bills, and included an expanded death penalty and restrictions on court appeals by death-row inmates.

The measure, introduced Monday by Sen. Joseph Biden Jr., D-Del., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, would increase by 53 percent the amount included in an earlier version for more police on the beat, from $3.4 billion over six years to $5.2 billion over five years. It also would increase the number of police to be funded from 50,000 to 60,000. A Senate aide said Biden increased the prospective money only after getting White House assurance that it would be provided.

The bill also increased from $300 million to $2 billion the money to be authorized for military-style boot camps for nonviolent first offenders and regional prisons for violent state drug criminals.