Last week I had the honor of watching 1,436 new police officers join the ranks of the New York Police Department at the police cadet graduation ceremony. As always, it was a very wonderful and proud occasion for our entire city.
It was also an historic moment. This was the first class to receive additional training in proper conduct as part of Police Commissioner Safir's initiative to promote "Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect" within the department.
"C.P.R.," as it's known, is a critical part of a police officer's education. This administration's commitment to eliminating brutality and misconduct is an important step in eliminating the fear and distrust that may still exist in our communities.
It's also important that police officers be representative of the entire city so that they can understand the people they're protecting even better, and understand the communities they're serving. To that end, over 81 percent of last week's graduating class are city residents.
In joining the ranks of the New York Police Department, these police officers are becoming part of a very successful team that has led the nation in reducing crime.
But many of our city's agencies have worked together to achieve these results. For example, even as the number of arrests and the number of defendants in city jails have increased since 1993, the Courts and the Department of Correction are continuing to meet the demands of the justice system with increasing efficiency. Just last year alone, inmate-on-inmate violence in correctional facilities decreased by a marked 63 percent.
And even departments from outside the criminal justice system play a key role in reducing crime. Proponents of the "broken windows" theory point out that in a clean and orderly environment, people are less likely to commit crime.
In that respect, the Department of Sanitation, the Parks Department, and the Department of Transportation have all been critical in keeping our streets the cleanest and the safest they've been in over two decades.
In New York City right now, shootings are down by 50-51 percent and murder is down by over 50 percent. But the fact is that 90 percent of the guns we take out of the hands of criminals in New York City come from out of the State of New York.
We must continue to build on our city's success in reducing crime. And that means working for a stricter national gun licensing law. So in states like Florida, it would be more difficult to get a gun license than it would be to get a driver's license.
I applaud President Clinton's recent proposal to Congress to prohibit all foreign visitors from buying or carrying a gun. But it should go further, much further. And what we should have are national uniform gun licensing laws so that guns, like automobiles and drivers, would be subjected to reasonable licensing procedures.
If indeed Congress heeds its moral obligation and enacts this kind of legislation, perhaps some good can come from the terrible tragedy at the Empire State Building. It's only by working together, at the federal and state level, in all of the city agencies, the police department, and the communities, that we will continue to make our city and our nation more secure.
From Gracie Mansion, this is Mayor Rudy Giuliani.