WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Vern Buchanan announced that several of the nation’s leading law enforcement organizations have endorsed his legislation to toughen penalties against cop killers. Buchanan’s Thin Blue Line Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support during the 115th Congress, would make the murder or attempted murder of a police officer or other first responders an “aggravating” factor in death penalty determinations.

 “Police officers and other first responders risk their lives every day protecting our communities,” said Congressman Buchanan. “It’s long past time to pass my bill and make clear to criminals that if you target an officer or first responder, there will be severe consequences.”

According to the Fraternal Order of Police, there have been 145 officers shot in the line of duty in 2024, 20 of whom were killed. Additionally, there have been 27 ambush-style attacks which injured 35 law enforcement officers and killed six.

The Thin Blue Line Act would be applicable whether the law enforcement officer or first responder 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.

Late last year in Hillsborough County, two Sheriff’s deputies were critically injured after being hit by a driver with his car.

So far, Buchanan’s Thin Blue Line Act has been endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police (NFOP), the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Sheriffs Association and the United States Deputy Sheriff Association.

“Law enforcement officers have always faced threats while on duty, but within the past few years, and especially in today’s climate, officers have become a target for violence,” said Patrick Yoes, National President for the Fraternal Order of Police. “Under current law, the murder of a Federal law enforcement officer or prosecutor is an ‘aggravating’ factor in favor of the maximum penalty—usually death.  This legislation would provide that the murder of local or State prosecutor, law enforcement officer, or other public safety officers also be considered an ‘aggravating’ factor in a federal case, and we are grateful to Representative Buchanan for taking the lead on this issue.” 

In endorsing his legislation, William J. Johnson, Executive Director of the National Association of Police Organizations called Buchanan’s bill, “critical, as law enforcement officer assaults, particularly ambush assaults, have increased sharply in recent years… NAPO strongly believes that increased penalties make important differences in the attitudes of criminals toward public safety officers, and ensure protection for the community.”

“Congressman Buchanan’s reintroduction of the Thin Blue Line act is a crucial step in increasing protections and recognizing the immense sacrifice of our law enforcement officers as they serve to keep our communities safe,” said Sheriff Jim Skinner, Collin County, TX - Chair, Government Affairs Committee, National Sheriffs’ Association. “As we honor National Police Week, we proudly support this vital legislation, ensuring justice for our brave officers and first responders.”

 “The United States Deputy Sheriff’s Association is honored to support the Thin Blue Line Act. With the current atmosphere of anti-law enforcement in America this bill is a great step forward in supporting law enforcement and other first responders,” said David Hinners of the United States Deputy Sheriff’s Association. “These are the men and women who not only put their lives on the line every day but are dedicated to advancing their communities.  The Thin Blue Line Act is a great way to support these heroes that go unnoticed every day.”

The National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. has 24,067 names engraved to honor our nation’s brave law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Last year, Buchanan presented 54 awards  to law enforcement officers and departments in Manatee and Hillsborough Counties for exceptional achievement. The winners of Buchanan’s Congressional District Law Enforcement Awards were selected by an independent panel of current and retired law enforcement.