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Dreeshen’s bill back in House

Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen’s private member’s bill to deal with those personating an officer to commit crime returns to Parliament on this evening for second reading.

Bill C-444, an act to amend the Criminal Code, had first reading last September.

Dreeshen re-introduced the bill after it died on the order paper when the 2011 federal election was called.

Dreeshen said personating a peace officer, or other officers, to commit a serious crime happens more often than people think.

“I certainly feel proud of having this opportunity once again to move forward. One of the things that I’ve always said I wanted to do was stand up for the victims of crime,” Dreeshen said from Ottawa.

Dreeshen put forward the bill after the 2009 abduction and sexual assault of a Penhold teen.

A man who posed as a police officer stopped her outside her home and told her to get into his car, which was equipped with red flashing lights.

Gerard John Baumgarte, 57 at the time, of Red Deer, pleaded guilty to kidnapping, sexual assault and other charges.

He was given a six-month sentence for personating a police officer. The sentence runs concurrently with his 18-year prison sentence for the other charges.

Bill C-444 would amend the Criminal Code so that personating a peace officer or public officer to commit another offence is made an aggravating circumstance for sentencing purposes.

Aggravating circumstances cause judges to impose longer sentences, up to the five-year maximum that is allowed.

This evening, the bill will have its first hour of debate and will return to Parliament in a month for more debate and a vote before moved to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

In 2011, the bill received unanimous support at second reading and was about to be brought back for third reading when the election was called.

Dreeshen expects third reading in about two months.

Any amendments will be addressed before third reading, after which the Senate must vote on the bill before it can become law.

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