Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Calls for Crackdown on Cop Killers

Jul 22, 2016
Press Release
Letter Urges Congressional Leaders to Pass Thin Blue Line Act

Police Deaths from Guns up 72 Percent This Year

WASHINGTON – In a letter sent today to congressional leaders, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) today called for swift passage of legislation to toughen penalties against anyone who murders police and other first responders.

The Thin Blue Line Act authored by Rep. David Jolly, R-FL, and co-sponsored by Buchanan, would make the murder or attempted murder of a first responder, including police officers and firefighters, an “aggravating” factor in death penalty determinations.

“Over the last several weeks police officers have been targeted for violence simply because they wear the blue uniform.” Buchanan said in a letter sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “The sick individuals who target police must face severe consequences for their actions. These senseless attacks on police must end.”

The number of American law enforcement deaths from shootings has jumped 72 percent over this time last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The legislation is backed by a number of law enforcement organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations and Florida Sheriffs’ Association.

The bill could serve as a deterrent for violence against police, according to the president of the National Association of Police Organizations, Mick McHale. “Establishing stricter penalties for those who harm law enforcement officers will deter violence against officers and help keep communities safe, which is why it is vital that Congress pass this legislation,” McHale said.

“President Barack Obama recently wrote an open letter to American law enforcement, saying ‘we have your back,’” Buchanan said. “Congress should adopt the same approach and immediately pass the Thin Blue Line Act.”

The Thin Blue Line Act would be applicable whether the person is murdered on duty, because of the performance of their duty, or because of their status as a public official.

It covers federal, state, and local police officers, firefighters and first responders. The only requirement is that the homicide involve federal jurisdiction, such as the interstate homicide of an officer or an officer killed on federal land.


Full text of the letter:

July 22, 2016

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi   
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives                                               

Dear Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi: 

When Congress reconvenes in September, I urge you to schedule an immediate vote on legislation that would toughen penalties against cop killers.

Every day, brave men and women put their lives on the line to protect their communities. But over the last several weeks police officers have been targeted for violence simply because they wear the blue uniform. These senseless attacks on police must end. Across the country, Americans have come together to condemn the acts of violence against police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. But sympathy and support are not enough to keep our first responders safe.

Congress must take action to help end these attacks. The sick individuals who target those who keep us safe must face severe consequences for their actions.

The Thin Blue Line Act sponsored by Rep. David Jolly (H.R. 814) will toughen penalties for federal cases involving the murder of a police officer. Prosecutors and firefighters are also covered by the bill, which has the support of the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, Major County Sheriff’s Association, International Union of Police Associations, National Sheriffs’ Association, Florida Sheriffs’ Association and more.

The bill could serve as a deterrent for violence against police, according to the president of the National Association of Police Organizations, Mick McHale. “Establishing stricter penalties for those who harm law enforcement officers will deter violence against officers and help keep communities safe, which is why it is vital that Congress pass this legislation,” McHale said.

Sadly, the number of American law enforcement deaths from shootings has jumped 72 percent over this time last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

President Barack Obama recently wrote an open letter to American law enforcement, saying “we have your back.” Congress should adopt the same approach and immediately pass the Thin Blue Line Act.

Sincerely,

Vern Buchanan

Member of Congress