Bill Weld on Crime

Former Republican Governor; former Senate candidate (MA)


Prosecute police for civil rights violations

Q: How about the role for the Justice Department civil rights division in police brutality incidents?

WELD: I'm a veteran of the Justice Department & US Attorney. The US Attorney's relationship with the local [district attorneys] is generally one of cooperation, but you have to be alert. I remember a case we prosecuted under deprivation of civil rights. It was a police officer in Lynn, Massachusetts who--he didn't shoot the guy, but there was this miserable old drunk down at the docks in Lynn, and the officer pushed him in the water--it was November, so it wasn't FREEZING freezing, but it was not pleasant--and just watched him drown. We prosecuted him. And there were some local residents who thought it was funny, and we prosecuted it under the civil rights statute & got a sentence of 15 years. People were incredulous; the officer said this is just anti-police hysteria run rampant. But the guy died. [The officer] was standing there looking at him, laughing. I didn't feel bad about that case.

Source: Washington Post joint interview of Johnson & Weld , Jul 7, 2016

Prosecuted organized crime for 7 years in Justice Department

Q: You've said that you've evolved on crime issues. When you were governor in Massachusetts, you saw gun control as being necessary. Now, so what do you mean when you say you've evolved?

WELD: My most relevant experience is my seven years in the Justice Department, and I was an organized crime prosecutor, and I saw the way Rudy Giuliani, myself, others took out the whole top three echelons of organized crime in the 1980s. It's by having a central place where you collect all the intelligence, you build a case bit by bit, and then you go after the whole enchilada. And I think we should do the same with a thousand-person FBI taskforce treating ISIS as a gigantic organized crime family, which is exactly what it is. And you have them add the probable cause bit by bit, just like the Justice Department does.

Source: 2016 CNN Libertarian Town Hall with Gary Johnson & Bill Weld , Jun 22, 2016

Opposes weekend furloughs for convicted murderers & rapists

Kerry charged Weld with releasing 700 sex offenders from prison prematurely. "Most criminals in this state are less frightened of you than of Inspector Clouseau," said Kerry, referring to the bumbling detective in the Pink Panther movies.

Weld countered Kerry's accusations by reminding the senator that he furloughed several violent criminals when he served as lieutenant governor: "You were letting out murderers on furlough," Weld said. "You were sending sex offenders home for the weekend."

Source: Harvard Crimson on Kerry/Weld debates , Oct 29, 1996

When we catch the bad guys, we've got to hammer them

The two candidates clashed on crime-related issues including crime. Although both candidates favor educational programs directed at curbing teen violence and drug use, Weld said that tougher sentencing must also be a part of any serious crime fighting agenda. "When we catch the bad guys, we've got to hammer them," Weld said.

Responding, Kerry questioned the governor's commitment to social programs. "The governor talked about things kids need, but as governor he hasn't done anything," Kerry said.

Source: Harvard Crimson on Kerry/Weld debates , Oct 24, 1996

Support death penalty for cop killers

Kerry attempted to give Massachusetts voters a clearer sense of what he has accomplished in his years as senator. "I'm proud I led the fight for 100,000 new police officers," Kerry said.

However, Weld had a few counter-attacks up his sleeve. He sharply criticized Kerry and cited bills that Kerry supported which may not fare well with Americans concerned about crime and the economy. "Kerry voted against the death penalty for cop killers and voted against the balanced budget three times. I hope everyone studies Senator Kerry's voting record," Weld said.

Kerry adamantly denied voting against these bills and repeatedly accused Weld of misrepresenting the facts on issues such as the gasoline tax hike and the death penalty. "Governor, I don't know who does your research--maybe its Oliver Stone," Kerry said in response to Weld's attacks. The senator severely rebuked Weld for using the death penalty as an issue in the race, calling Weld "shameless."

Source: Harvard Crimson on Kerry/Weld debates , Apr 9, 1996

Tough on taxes, tough on crime

In his speech at the Republican National Convention, Weld predicted the split on the abortion issue actually may help the Republicans because it demonstrates a diversity lacking in the Democratic Party: "Disagreement is not unhealthy. Unlike the Democrats, George Bush and the Republican Party are not afraid of a little disagreement. My appearance before you tonight proves it," Weld said.

"Weld's address to the convention blasted Arkansas Gov. Clinton for his state's lax restrictions that let prisoners out early, and criticized Democrats in general for their fiscal policies. "My platform in 1990 was 'tough on taxes, tough on crime.' Ladies and Gentlemen, Republican are both and the Democrats are neither," he said. "The Democrats' taxing and spending habits remind me of that old definition of a baby: a huge appetite on the end, and no sense of responsibility on the other."

Source: The Harvard Crimson, "Weld Speaks on Abortion, Crime" , Aug 21, 1992

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Page last updated: Aug 22, 2016