Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., along with his GOP colleagues in the Senate, reintroduced a bill Thursday that would enhance penalties for criminals who target American police officers.
The measure, titled the Thin Blue Line Act, makes the targeting, killing, or attempted killing of a police officer an aggravating factor in favor of maximum sentences.
Announcing the revival of the measure, Braun’s office said the aggravating factor currently applies to those charged with targeting federal law enforcement, but the proposed legislation would extend the same criminal penalties to local and state police.
Braun led the reintroduction of the measure after the shooting death of Elwood, Indiana, police officer Noah Shahnavaz, who was killed last summer while conducting a traffic stop. Shahnavaz’s killer, according to Braun’s office, 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.”
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“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,” Braun said in a statement. “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.”
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, Braun’s office noted.
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Other Republicans — including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Marco Rubio of Florida, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Eric Schmitt of Missouri, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, and John Hoeven of North Dakota — joined Braun in reintroducing the bill.
Braun’s measure is sponsored by a number of police organizations, including the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, and the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police.
A report by the National Fraternal Order of Police this month stated that there have been 34 officers shot in the line of duty so far in 2023, up 113% from the same time in 2020.
“There have been 8 ambush-style attacks on law enforcement officers this year,” the group noted. “These ambush-style attacks have resulted in 9 officers shot, one of whom was killed by gunfire.”
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Acting Attorney General of the United States Matt Whitaker, who serve as co-chairs of the America First Policy Institute, also released a joint statement in support of the Thin Blue Line Act.
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“The Thin Blue Line Act would enshrine into law the same standard of justice that is already afforded to federal law enforcement,” the two said. “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.”
“Last year, America lost 331 police officers in the line of duty, and has already lost another 34 in January 2023 alone,” the pair added. “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.”