Buchanan: “Pass My Bill to Punish Cop Killers”
SARASOTA – Congressman Vern Buchanan today urged congressional leaders to immediately pass his bill to toughen penalties against cop killers in the wake of six police officers being shot in Philadelphia earlier this week.
Buchanan’s Thin Blue Line Act (H.R. 99), which passed the U.S. House last Congress with a strong bipartisan vote of 271-143, would make the murder or attempted murder of a police officer an “aggravating” factor in death penalty determinations. Buchanan called on the U.S. House and Senate to take up the bill immediately and send it to the president’s desk.
“Police officers and first responders put their lives on the line every single day to help those in harm’s way,” Buchanan said. “They need to know that we have their backs. And those who target police and first responders need to know that there will be severe consequences.”
The congressman’s call for action comes shortly after six police officers were shot and three more injured while attempting to serve a narcotics warrant in Philadelphia. Fortunately, none of the injuries were life threatening, but the Philadelphia Police Commissioner warned that the situation “could have been far worse.”
There have already been 73 officers killed in the line of duty this year, following a 16% increase in shooting deaths of police officers last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Several Suncoast police chiefs and sheriffs previously expressed their support for Buchanan’s bill, including the Sarasota County and Hillsborough County sheriff’s offices, Sarasota Police Department, Bradenton Police Department, Palmetto Police Department and Holmes Beach Police Department.
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, or while serving as part of a joint task force.
At the start of National Police Week in May, Buchanan announced the winners of his Congressional District Law Enforcement Awards. Buchanan established the awards eight years ago to give special recognition to law enforcement officers and departments in Manatee, Sarasota and Hillsborough counties for exceptional achievement.
Ambush-style attacks on police have increased in recent years and contributed to 145 law enforcement fatalities last year alone. In March 2018, the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) Buchanan was honored as for his “outstanding support for American law enforcement.”