Noting the rising number of police officers being killed, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., called on Thursday for the U.S. Senate to pass his “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 decisions.
Buchanan pointed to stats showing 2017 has seen a 18 percent increase in the number of law enforcement deaths from last year and called on the Senate to pass his proposal. Back in May, the House passed the “Thin Blue Line Act” on a 271-143 vote. While four Republicans voted against it, 223 members of the GOP supported the measure and were joined by 48 Democrats. Most Democrats--139 of them--voted against the measure. Despite that most Democrats representing the Sunshine State--including U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy and Darren Soto--voted to pass Buchanan’s bill. Three members of the Florida delegation--Republicans Carlos Curbelo and Tom Rooney and Democrat Frederica Wilson--did not vote.
“It’s time to protect those who put their lives on the line for us every day,” Buchanan said on Thursday. “We need to send a strong message that the heinous targeting of police officers or first responders will not be tolerated.”
Buchanan praised former U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., who introduced the bill at the start of 2015. Jolly was defeated by Crist back in November.
“This legislation will hopefully serve as an even greater deterrent and help protect the men and women who risk their lives for the safety and well-being of others,” Jolly said when he introduced the bill back in February 2015.
Jolly pointed to the way the law was set up and said it needed to be altered considerably.
“Current federal law only cites the homicide of a federal public servant,” Jolly said. “This bill would close that loophole and treat all police equally under federal law.”
Buchanan has given much of the credit to the bill to former U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., who introduced the bill at the start of 2015. Jolly was defeated by Crist back in November and is considering a rematch in 2018.
Over in the Senate, Republican U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and John McCain of Arizona are championing the bill. Before he was named U.S. attorney general by President Donald Trump, Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions was backing the measure in the Senate.