Buchanan’s Thin Blue Line Act Passes Key Committee
Police Deaths Soar in 2016
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House Judiciary Committee today approved Congressman Vern Buchanan’s legislation to toughen penalties against cop killers. The bill now heads to the full House for a vote expected in mid-May.
Buchanan’s Thin Blue Line Act, H.R. 115, would make the murder or attempted murder of a police officer, firefighter or other first responder an “aggravating” factor in death penalty determinations. The committee passed the bill in a 19-12 vote.
“We owe a great debt to police officers and first responders across the country,” Buchanan said. “Attacks against law enforcement officers must end. The strong committee vote today sends a clear message to those who target police – you will be held accountable.”
The number of police officer deaths from shootings increased 56 percent nationally in 2016, according to a report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Additionally, in 2016 alone, ambush-style killings of law enforcement officers increased by 167 percent, according to the National Association of Police Organizations.
“Every day, federal, state, and local law enforcement officers around the country protect their fellow citizens from harm, keep the peace, and carry out justice,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said. “As they serve and protect us, we have a duty to ensure they have the tools needed to do their jobs and that our laws honor their sacrifices. I thank Congressman Vern Buchanan for his work on the Thin Blue Line Act. This bill ensures criminals who murder law enforcement officers face justice for their crimes.”
The legislation 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.
“The House must swiftly act to protect our police officers and first responders,” Buchanan said.
A number of national law enforcement organizations have voiced their support for the legislation. The full list includes:
- National Association of Police Organizations
- National Fraternal Order of Police
- Major Counties Sheriffs of America
- American Federation of Government Employees
- Sergeants Benevolent Association
- Council of Prison Locals
- Peace Officers Research Association of California
- Voices of J.O.E.
- U.S. First Responders Association