On Thursday, Senator Mike Braun and Senators Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio, James Lankford, Eric Schmitt, Thom Tillis, Bill Hagerty, John Kennedy, John Hoeven, John Boozman, and Ted Budd reintroduced the Thin Blue Line Act, a bill to increase penalties for criminals who target our cops.
The Thin Blue Line Act makes the targeting, killing, or attempted killing of a police officer an aggravating factor in favor of maximum sentences. Currently this applies to federal law enforcement; the Thin Blue Line Act would apply this to local and state police as well.
Police are under attack in America. In just the first month of this year, thirty-four police officers were shot in the U.S. As Law Officer reports, the number of officers shot in line of duty has more than doubled since 2020.
Senator Braun decided to take the lead in re-introducing the Thin Blue Line Act in the 118th Congress after Indiana officer Noah Shahnavaz was killed by a career violent criminal who had previously shot at Indianapolis police and struck a police cruiser multiple times during a chase, but ended up back on the streets after serving 13 years of a 25 year sentence.
Indiana has had several police officers killed or injured in the line of duty in recent years, including FBI task force officer and 30-year veteran of the Terre Haute Police Department Greg Ferency who was killed in July 2021, and 28-year old Richmond officer Seara Burton who was shot by a violent criminal during a traffic stop and died 5 weeks later.
This bill has the support of all four major police organizations in Indiana, as well as the support of several national police organizations.
STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT:
“There is a war on our cops, and it’s time we raise the price of targeting them. The Thin Blue Line Act will make targeting or killing a police officer in a violent crime an aggravating factor in favor the harshest penalties we have,” said Senator Braun. “President Biden said in his State of the Union speech last week that police officers put their lives on the line every day, and that we ask them to do too much. I agree, and as cities continue to encourage crime by going easy on violent criminals, I’m calling on President Biden to announce his support for this legislation to increase the penalties for those who try to kill cops.”
“All that Noah ever wanted to do is help others. Society has been robbed of the many positive impacts he would have had on our world. It is time that we the people demand stiffer penalties for evildoers who commit violent acts against heroes called to serve and protect. Thank you, Senator Braun, for leading this charge.” – Laurie and Matt Shahnavaz, parents of Officer Noah Shahnavaz
“Our first responders are heroes make a choice, each and every day, to put themselves in harm’s way to keep our communities safe. This important legislation will put criminals on notice that if they target our police officers, firefighters, and first responders, they will pay the highest penalty the law allows.” – Senator Cruz
“Law-enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect the American people,” said Senator Hagerty. “We must ensure that law-enforcement officers are protected and that criminals who attempt to hurt them are held accountable. This legislation will make sure that targeting or killing a local police officer is met with the harshest punishment available.”
“Our brave men and women in law enforcement put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. With crime reaching record highs across the country and the increase in officers killed in the line of duty, it is important to prioritize the safety of our law enforcement and our communities. I’m proud to join my colleagues in this effort to fight back against Democrat soft-on-crime policies and deter criminals from targeting law enforcement.” – Senator Johnson
“Each day, law enforcement officers across our country risk their lives to protect and serve our communities,” Senator Boozman said. “Unfortunately, more criminals are targeting them with violence because of their commitment to enforce the law and maintain order. I’m proud to join my colleagues to make it clear we will always stand up for the men and women behind the badge and will not tolerate attempts to attack or intimidate them.”
“Every day, police officers put their lives on the line to protect their fellow Americans. The least we can do is make sure our laws protect law enforcement from those who target them.” – Senator Rubio
“Law enforcement and first responders put their safety and well-being on the line in order to protect our communities and respond to a range of dangerous situations,” said Senator Hoeven. “It is unconscionable that these public servants would be the target of violent crime, and our legislation would help ensure criminals face appropriate penalties for such an offense.”
“Law enforcement officers go to work every day not knowing whether they’ll return home safely to their families,” said Senator Tillis. “I am proud to introduce this legislation to increase the penalty for targeting our brave men and women in law enforcement, and will make criminals think twice before targeting them.”
“The men and women of law enforcement protect and serve their communities every day, and put their lives on the line to do it. Anyone who targets them deserves to pay the maximum punishment. Thank you to Senator Braun for leading this critical bill.” – Senator Budd
“Last year, America lost 331 police officers in the line of duty, and has already lost another 34 in January 2023 alone. As our state and local law enforcement officers continue to experience unprecedented acts of violence against them, criminals perpetrating this violence must be held accountable. The Thin Blue Line Act would enshrine into law the same standard of justice that is already afforded to federal law enforcement. This Act would guarantee this standard to our state and local officers when they are operating in coordination with federal partners or when they are on federal property. This deterrent measure and added layer of prosecutorial protection is a must, which is why we support the Senate’s re-introduction of the Thin Blue Line Act, and we hope it passes with bipartisan support.” – Pam Bondi, former Attorney General of Florida, and Matt Whitaker, former Acting Attorney General of the United States, Co-Chairs of the America First Policy Institute’s Center for Law and Justice
STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT GROUPS:
“The Indiana Fraternal Order of Police, representing 13,000 men and women in Law Enforcement, stand behind this legislation 100%. Thanks to Senator Braun for standing with and supporting those on the very front lines of public safety and recognizing the ultimate sacrifices that are made far too often and in increasing numbers. There should be a strong message sent to those who target those in our profession simply because of the uniform or the badge that they wear. We urge passage.” – Bill Owensby, President, Indiana Fraternal Order of Police
“According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, 64 police officers in the United States were shot and killed in 2022. That is a 21% increase in the number of officers killed by gunfire compared to the average of firearms-related officer deaths between 2010-2020. More troubling, of those 64 officers murdered, 11 were killed in ambush-style attacks. The Thin Blue Line Act adds protections for state and local officers, consistent with those afforded our federal counterparts, should our members be targeted for merely doing their job. Adding this serious deterrent is important as violent attacks on law enforcement officers are on the rise. We support the Thin Blue Line Act and thank Senator Braun for continuing to fight to help protect our members.” – Indiana State Police Alliance
“Hundreds of law enforcement officers and other first responders across this nation are being shot or violently assaulted each year. In a growing trend, first responders are even being targeted merely because of their profession. Without legislation such as The Thin Blue Line Act, the persistent increase in violence will remain unbridled. It is imperative that criminals be sent a clear message that these acts are unacceptable and will be met with the most severe punishment. The Indiana Sheriff’s Association strongly supports this legislation.” – Sheriff Randy Retter, President, Indiana Sheriffs Association
“The Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police strongly supports Senator Mike Braun’s reintroduction of the “Thin Blue Line Act” which would enhance penalties against those who choose to commit lethal acts of violence against law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders acting in the course of their duties. This Act would extend the same standard of justice to local first responders serving in their communities that is afforded to our federal counterparts. While this Act may not prevent an attack on our first responders, it will provide comfort to the families that are left behind in knowing that justice can be delivered in the wake of those senseless acts of violence.” – Chief Kyle Prewitt, Plainfield Police Department / Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police, Government Relations Chair
“With the unprecedented targeting of law enforcement professionals, both inside and outside of our nation’s prisons, the Thin Blue Line Act has become an essential measured response now more than ever. The men and women that serve America deserve the protections of the severest of penalties as the ultimate deterrent. It is unfathomable to imagine a society without those who are willing to sacrifice themselves to protect everyday Americans. Reality is that evil does exist in our nation and an attack on those that protect others is an assault on our morals and civility. The National Prison Council is thankful that Senator Braun is leading the effort to protect those that protect America.” – Shane Fausey, National President, National Council of Prison Locals
THE THIN BLUE LINE ACT is sponsored by the following police groups:
- Indiana Fraternal Order of Police
- Indiana Sheriff’s Association
- Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police
- Indiana State Police Alliance
- National Fraternal Order of Police
- National Troopers Coalition
- National Association of Police Organizations
- National Council of Prison Locals
- Voices of JOE
ABOUT THE THIN BLUE LINE ACT:
- When a jury in a federal case considers whether to impose the death penalty, the jury must consider certain “aggravating” factors.
- Current law states that if the murder victim is a federal law enforcement officer or federal prosecutor, this fact shall weigh as an aggravating factor in favor of the maximum penalty.
- The Thin Blue Line Act provides the same level of justice to local law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and first responders.
- It also enhances the penalty when a defendant targets a law enforcement officer, prosecutor, or first responder solely because that individual has chosen to protect and serve.