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Dreeshen's personation bill moves up

Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen’s private members’ bill to deal with those personating an officer to commit crime has passed second reading.

On Thursday, the bill returned to Parliament for the last hour of second reading debate and will now proceed to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for study, before returning to the House of Commons for third 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.

“There is this gap that needs to be closed in the criminal code,” said Dreeshen on Thursday.

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 bill is about sentencing. It speaks to the need for tougher penalties for this particular crime. Victims must be assured that there will be serious consequences for criminals who have hurt them, and we need to preserve the trust and respect that citizens have for real police officers,” Dreeshen said.

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

Dreeshen first 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 of Red Deer, who was 57 at the time, 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.



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