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House OKs bill making police radio theft a crime

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa House has approved legislation that creates a new criminal offense for trying to remove a communication device from a law enforcement officer.

The House passed the bill 77 to 17 on Wednesday. It earlier passed the Senate and now moves to Gov. Terry Branstad.

The measure makes it a simple misdemeanor to steal an officer's radio or cellphone. Penalties can be enhanced to a felony if the officer is injured during the theft.

Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad of Des Moines voted against the bill, saying it creates another way to incriminate minorities, who make up more than 26 percent of the state's prison population.

The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency reports the bill would apply to nearly 30 cases each year.

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