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Downum bill’ forwarded on to state Senate

A bill that would allow former Calaveras County Sheriff Dennis Downum to spend up to a year in Iraq has cleared the Assembly and is headed to the state Senate.

Downum left Dec. 28 for a post received through the U.S. State Department to train Iraqi police officers in procedures and policies used by their American counterparts.

The position is a one-year assignment, but state law allows only a six-month leave-of-absence for local elected officials.

Assemblyman Dave Cogdill R-Modesto, introduced legislation to extend that time period and it passed the Assembly Feb. 17 by a vote of 55-0.

Assembly Bill 1786 will now be reviewed by a state Senate committee before going to a full vote before that body.

Downum has already received approval for the one-year assignment from the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The assignment is part of a program that eventually will place 1,000 American law-enforcement officers in Iraq, and Cogdill noted the importance of Downum´s willingness to take part in it. “I am proud that his expertise will be shared with the Iraqi people in their quest for a free and safe society,” Cogdill said.

Former Undersheriff Randy Grasmuck has been sworn in as Downum´s replacement during his absence.

Calaveras Enterprise story. For more Calaveras news, click: calaverasenterprise.com