Burns’ Blue Lives Matter Caucus welcomes Rigby as GOP chairman

Bipartisan effort centered in Cambria County

EBENSBURG, July 20 – The Blue Lives Matter Caucus founded by state Rep. Frank Burns in 2017 is welcoming state Rep. Jim Rigby as its Republican chairman, strengthening Cambria County’s presence in the bipartisan effort to support law enforcement.

Burns, D-Cambria, has served as the caucus’ Democratic chairman ever since former House GOP Speaker Mike Turzai approved its formation at Burns’ request four years ago. The new caucus quickly attracted 22 other members, and Burns described it as a “bipartisan, multi-issue group dedicated to all issues and concerns related to law enforcement.”

Making Rigby his GOP counterpart helps codify that goal, Burns said, by illuminating the willingness of Democrats and Republicans to work together in support of a common and important goal.

“From day one, the Blue Lives Matter Caucus has been built around the theme that some issues transcend party lines – and standing strong in support of those who protect us is one of them,” Burns said. “I resisted pressure to change the name of our caucus, from those who disapproved of what we stand for. And now, we’ve grown to the point where we have Jim Rigby, a fellow Cambria Countian who came to the legislature in 2019, as Republican chairman. I welcome him to the fight.”

Burns added that Rigby, a former police chief in Ferndale Borough, brings a unique perspective to the Blue Lives Matter Caucus that could help with advancing its goals, particularly among Republican House members.

“The challenges facing today’s members of law enforcement in some cases pale in comparison to those I faced not that long ago,” said Rigby, who spent 35 years in law enforcement and served as Ferndale’s police chief from July 2015 to December 2018. “One thing that hasn’t changed is our need to respect and stand up for the overwhelming number of fine and talented men and women who serve our communities. For that reason, I am proud to serve in the Blue Lives Matter Caucus.”    

As Democratic chairman, Burns has introduced legislation that would increase criminal penalties for assaulting or fleeing a law enforcement officer, particularly when it causes serious injury or death. He has also pushed for adding assault of a law enforcement officer to the list of hate crimes.