Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Tells Senate: Pass My Bill to Punish Cop Killers

Jul 6, 2017
Press Release
Police Deaths Up 20% This Year

Execution-Style Killing of NYC Officer “Heinous”

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today urged U.S. Senate leaders to immediately pass his bill to toughen penalties against cop killers in the face of a nearly 20 percent increase in police officer deaths this year. 

One of those deaths occurred Wednesday when a New York City officer was executed by a gunshot to the head while sitting in her vehicle.

Buchanan’s Thin Blue Line Act, which passed the U.S. House in May 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. Senate to take up the bill immediately and send it to the president’s desk.

The congressman’s urge for action comes one day after the assassination of Officer Miosotis Familia, a 12-year veteran of the force and mother of three who was shot in the head in a Bronx neighborhood. Officer Familia was the first female NYPD officer to be killed in the line of duty since 9/11, according to the New York Times.

“It’s time to protect those who put their lives on the line for us every day,” Buchanan said. “We need to send a strong message that the heinous targeting of police officers or first responders will not be tolerated.”

More than a dozen state and national first responder organizations back Buchanan’s bill, including National Association of Police Organizations, National Fraternal Order of Police, Major Counties Sheriffs of America, American Federation of Government Employees and others.

There have been 67 line-of-duty deaths so far this year, an 18 percent spike from this time in 2016, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. 

Ambush-style killings of law enforcement officers last year skyrocketed 167 percent compared to 2015, according to the National Association of Police Organizations.

Several Suncoast police chiefs and sheriffs have also 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.