Buchanan pushes bill to increase penalties for killing first responders

Florida Attorney general Ashley Moody and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan speak at the Bradenton Police...
Florida Attorney general Ashley Moody and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan speak at the Bradenton Police Department headquarters Monday, Sept. 27(Bradenton Police Department)
Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 9:35 AM EDT
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UPDATED with information from news conference.

BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and U.S. Rep Vern Buchanan were in Bradenton Monday urging support for a bill before Congress that would make it easier for prosecutor to seek the death penalty for people who kill or try to kill police officers.

The legislation called the Thin Blue Line Act, sponsored by Buchanan and Sen. Pat Toomey, would make the intentional killing, or attempted killing, of a law enforcement officer, prosecutor, firefighter or other first responder acting in the line of duty an aggravating factor under the federal death penalty statute.

“Our brave law enforcement officers risk their lives daily to protect and serve their communities,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said at the Bradenton Police Department. “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,” she said.

“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,” Buchanan said.

While nearly every state that imposes the death penalty provides that the unlawful killing of a law enforcement officer is a statutory aggravator, current federal law does not.

Buchanan and Moody were joined by Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan, Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells, Bradenton Mayor Gene Brown, State Sen. Jim Boyd and State Rep. William Robinson, Jr.

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