By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, September 29, US Senators Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) and Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) have introduced legislation that imposes harsher sentences on criminals who target our law enforcement officers and first responders.
Sen. Sessions said, “The alarming spike in violence directed against the men and women entrusted with ensuring the safety and order of our society must be stopped. The Thin Blue Line Act will help protect our officers by bringing harsher penalties to criminals committing these vile acts and by extending the protections afforded to federal officers to our local police and first responders. This legislation honors the message sent by law-abiding Americans that we cannot stand idly by as attacks are waged upon those who serve and protect our communities.”
Sen. Toomey said, “It is important we send the message that police lives also matter, and that if you target a police officer with violence, you will receive a harsh penalty. Every day, our law enforcement officers and first responders place themselves in harm’s way to protect the rest of us. They also present tempting targets to criminals seeking retribution, and to organized crime rings seeking to discourage law enforcement officers from investigating them. Congress has long recognized that additional tools are needed to prevent such attacks on law enforcement officers.”
The Senators wrote that America has seen a rash of attacks on law enforcement officers. These include both the cold blooded, execution-style murders of law enforcement officers such as Pennsylvania State Trooper Corporal Bryon Dickson, and the killing of officers who are trying to protect others, such as Philadelphia Officer Robert Wilson, III.
Sen. Toomey said, “Now, we see one officer after another targeted simply for the uniform he or she wears. Our law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and firefighters deserve to know that their lives also matter, and they have our support. Those who would murder a person simply because he or she wears blue deserve a harsh penalty. This legislation seeks to achieve those ends.”
Current law states that if the murder victim was a federal law enforcement officer or prosecutor, this fact shall weigh as an aggravating factor in favor of the death penalty. The Thin Blue Line Act would extend the same legal status to protect local law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and firefighters. It also enhances the penalty when a defendant targets a law enforcement officer, prosecutor, or firefighter solely because that individual chose to protect and serve.
US Representative David Jolly (R-Florida) has introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.
This legislation has been endorsed by: Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.); the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association; the Fraternal Order of Police; the International Union of Police Associations; the AFL-CIO; the Major County Sheriffs’ Association; the National Association of Police Organizations; the National District Attorneys Association; the National Sheriffs’ Association; the National Troopers Coalition; and the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.