GOP senators: ‘Police lives also matter’

Two Republican senators are teaming up to remind people that “police lives also matter.”

Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania say their new legislation, The Thin Blue Line Act, pushes for tougher punishments for those who attack law enforcement officers, a response to increased violence against police.

“It is important that 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,” Toomey said in a statement this week.

“The alarming spike in violence directed against the men and women entrusted with ensuring the safety and order of our society must be stopped,” Sessions added in the same statement.

The bill looks to add to expand a federal law that requires juries in federal cases that are considering the death penalty to examine certain “mitigating” and “aggravating factors.” That law now applies only to cases involving the death of federal officers or prosecutors, but the Sessions-Toomey bill would make it also apply in cases involving the death of local police, prosecutors or firefighters.

The Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO, are some of the supportive organizations backing the efforts of Toomey and Sessions.

According to the senators, their legislation follows similar legislation introduced in the House by Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., last February.

“This legislation will hopefully serve as an even greater deterrent and help protect the men and women who risk their lives for the safety and well-being of others,” Jolly said in a statement on Feb. 9. “Current federal law only cites the homicide of a federal public servant. This bill would close that loophole and treat all police equally under federal law.”

The legislation also appears to be a sort of response to the Black Lives Matter Movement, which began as a response to police violence against minority groups. The movement has become a force so far this year, interrupting numerous campaign events of 2016 presidential hopefuls.According to an early-September report by The Associated Press, 26 police officers were killed between January and September of this year, compared to 30 over the same period in 2014. According to a report by The Guardian called “The Counted,” more than 870 people have been killed by police this year in the United States.