|Published:||Feb 09, 2011 5:06 AM EST|
|Updated:||Feb 09, 2011 2:06 AM EST|
FORT MYERS, Fla. - This legislative session, Florida lawmakers will get another look at a proposed crime law named for a fallen Fort Myers police officer.
The Officer Andrew Widman Act is meant to keep repeat offenders in jail, but its stalled in Tallahassee in the last two legislative sessions.
"It just seems obvious to me, but we're still at it three years later," said Fort Myers Police Chief Doug Baker.
Officer Andrew Widman was shot and killed in the line of duty IN 2008 after encountering Abel Arango, a convicted felon on probation who had been arrested for another crime, but was released on bond.
"He had no knowledge this guy was a violent felon, had just been released for trafficking, been to prison," Baker said.
In 2009, the Widman Act was introduced to give judges the ability to keep repeat offenders in jail until they answer to their arrest and the probation violation. Currently, offenders still have the ability to receive bond.
"I think Andy would still be here, based upon that incident, because the guy would still be locked up," Baker said.
But the Widman bill stalled in 2009, and only passed in the house in 2010.
"I guess it comes down to politics," Baker said of the difficulties.
The Widman Act was originally introduced by then-state Representative Nick Thompson, who left the legislature after his term expired in 2010. Now, two newly elected legislators are stepping up in both houses to sponsor the measure.
"The time to do it is yesterday, the time to do it was two years ago when it was first filed," said Rep. Matt Caldwell (R-Fort Myers).
"People have a hard time understanding why people who are repeat offenders of a violent nature are able to walk the streets among them. So I think this is common sense on all sides," said Sen. Lizabeth Benacquisto (R-Fort Myers/West Palm Beach).
Baker is hopeful this will be the year lawmakers give law enforcement and judges the extra tools he believes they need.
"We've arrested people with rap sheets as long as their body, and its just a revolving door," Baker said. "If I don't get it this year, I'm going to pound it again next year."
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