Ashley Moody Calls on Congress to Pass Vern Buchanan’s Bill Punishing Cop Killers

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., teamed up this week to call on Congress to pass his “Thin Blue Line Act” to punish cop killers.

In recent years, Buchanan has been pushing 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 U.S. Senate.

Buchanan and Moody showcased the bill at a media event on Monday along with local law enforcement officials including Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells and Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan.

“Our brave law enforcement officers risk their lives daily to protect and serve their communities. The first seven months of this year alone resulted in unprecedented violent acts, resulting in dozens of line-of-duty deaths for officers across our nation. We cannot permit the anti-police sentiment and blatant disrespect for law enforcement to fester and grow. Violent attacks on officers not only affect those who wear a badge, it lessens the safety and security of our communities at large,” Moody said.

“I am asking congressional leaders to take immediate action to protect those who swore an oath to serve by supporting the Thin Blue Line Act. This legislation will provide local and state law enforcement officers the same protection and support currently provided to federal officers—acting as a deterrent to anyone who would look to harm an officer,” she added.

Moody wrote congressional leaders on the matter, calling on them to pass the bill.

“Police officers and first responders put their lives on the line every single day to help those in harm’s way,” said Buchanan. “I appreciate Attorney General Moody’s strong endorsement and advocacy for my bill, the Thin Blue Line Act. Together, we are sending a strong message to police and first responders that we have their backs, and those who target our frontline heroes should know that there will be severe consequences.”

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 though none of them are currently co-sponsoring the bill.

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.”

KEVIN DERBY
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