Proposed Officer Widman Act passes through state policy council

Tallahassee – HB 89, The Officer Andrew Widman Act, sponsored by Rep. Nick Thompson, passed in the Florida House Policy Council unanimously. Fort Myers Chief Doug Baker testified on behalf of the bill.

The bill will allow a first appearance judge much more flexibility in dealing with the arrested defendant. It allows the judge to provide for greater protection of the community by allowing that judge to order the defendant to be detained and not eligible for pre-trail release until a determination has been made that a violation of probation warrant will or will not be issued against the defendant.

This legislation is named in honor of Andrew Widman, a Fort Myers Police Officer who was murdered by Abel Arango, who was out on felony probation at the time of the murder. Abel Arango was on felony probation in Collier County. He was arrested on a new felony charge in Lee County and current law required the judge to grant a bond rather than hold him until the Collier County judge could sign a no hold bond warrant and have him served. Between the time he bonded out and before he was arrested on the felony violation of probation warrant, he tragically murdered Officer Andrew Widman on July 18, 2008.

The next stop for the HB 89 is the Criminal and Civil Justice Policy Council and if it passes will go to the House Floor for a vote.

SB 300, sponsored by Senator Mike Bennett is the companion bill.

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