U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan recently sought to extend the GOP’s outreach to law enforcement professionals. The Sarasota Republican late last week hosted a roundtable discussion for officers from around the region to talk about the rise in crime nationwide and heightened threats to police and other first responders.
“Our brave law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every single day to help those in harm’s way,” Buchanan said in a statement on Thursday. “They need to know that we have their backs.”
“As crime skyrockets across the country, today’s roundtable was important to hear directly from our frontline heroes about what they are seeing in our community as well as nationwide and learn what more we can do to support them and combat this disturbing trend.”
Among those officers who joined Buchanan were Col. Brian Woodring, chief deputy of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office; Maj. Pat Cassella of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office; Chief Melanie Bevin of the Bradenton Police Department; Chief Scott Tyler of the Palmetto Police Department; Deputy Chief Rex Troche and Capt. Scott Mayforth of the Sarasota Police Department; Chief George Turner and Lt. Richard Hankins of the Longboat Key Police Department; and Vaden Pollard, regional director for the Fort Meyers Operations Center with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
During the session, according to Buchanan’s office, the GOP congressman promoted his efforts to crack down on violent thugs who intentionally target or murder police officers and other first-responders.
Buchanan’s bill, the Thin Blue Line Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support during the 115th Congress, would make the murder or attempted murder of a police officer or other first-responders an “aggravating” factor in death penalty cases.
Both Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and the National Association of Police Organizations have endorsed the bill.
Buchanan’s office pointed out that in 2021, according to the National Fraternal Order of Police, 346 police officers across America were shot in the line of duty, and 73 of them were killed.
That was a 28 percent spike over 2020. “Ambush-style” attacks against cops jumped even more dramatically, up more than 125 percent in 2021, compared to 2020.
Chief Bevan of Bradenton said in a statement that the Thin Blue Line Act “shows incredible support of local law enforcement locally.”