With National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., doubled down on his “Thin Blue Line Act.”
Buchanan brought back the legislation last week as the new Congress convened. The “Thin Blue Line Act” which would make murdering a police officer, firefighter or first responder killed in federal jurisdiction an aggravating factor in federal death penalty decision.
The proposal was first brought out in 2015 by then U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla. After Jolly was defeated in 2016, Buchanan picked up the bill and got it passed in the House back in May 2017 but it never got through the Senate.
“America’s law enforcement officers don’t hesitate to confront danger when lives are at stake,” said Buchanan on Wednesday. “Today – and every day – let us thank these unsung heroes who protect Americans around the clock. We need to send an unequivocal message that the heinous targeting of police officers or first responders is intolerable. That is why I reiterate my calls for Congress to stand with our first responders and pass the Thin Blue Line Act.”
Buchanan called on Congress to quickly pass his bill.
“These brave men and women and their families put it all on the line and deserve our unwavering support,” Buchanan said, noting 145 law enforcement officials were killed last year.
The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) honored Buchanan back in March for his “outstanding support for American law enforcement.”
While Buchanan was not able to get the bill through the Senate--where the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, championed it--most members of the Florida delegation from both parties supported the legislation.
Back in May 2017, U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., took to the House floor to praise the proposal.
“I rise today in support of the Thin Blue Line Act, which will make the murder or attempted murder of a law enforcement officer or first responder an ‘aggravating factor’ in death penalty determinations,” Dunn said. “The officers of the thin blue line put their lives at risk every day and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so we can rest easy at night. Our law enforcement and first responders run into danger so that others can escape it.
“They do this despite the rise in violence against them,” Dunn added. “We have witnessed a 167 percent increase in ambush-style killings of police officers in 2016 alone. This is tragic and unacceptable. The Thin Blue Line Act will hold cop killers accountable and seek justice for those murdered in the line of duty. And it will show our resolve as citizens to protect the officers who are sworn to protect us. During this week -- National Police Week – we can also show our gratitude to law enforcement and their families by passing the Thin Blue Line Act. It is an honor to represent them in Congress.”