This legislation arises from the increased attacks of law enforcement officers, including the recent killings of Pennsylvania State Trooper Corporal Bryon Dickson and Philadelphia Officer Robert Wilson III. The Senator has been particularly vocal in his defense of police officers since the emergence of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
“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,” said Toomey. “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.”
Toomey goes on to emphasize the importance of showing law enforcement that their lives matter, and argues that this legislation will help further protect them in the line of duty.
When a jury in a federal case considers whether to impose the death penalty, the jury must consider certain “mitigating” and “aggravating” factors. 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 seeks to provide this level of justice to local law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and firefighters. It also enhances the penalty enforced when a defendant targets a law enforcement officer, prosecutor, or firefighter solely because that individual chose to protect and serve.
Thus far, the Thin Blue Line Act has been endorsed by Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Fraternal Order of Police, International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO, Major County Sheriffs’ Association, Association of Police Organizations, National District Attorneys Association, National Sheriffs’ Association, National Troopers Coalition, Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.
“The alarming spike in violence directed against the men and women entrusted with ensuring the safety and order of our society must be stopped,” said Sessions. “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.”