Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

04/12/2006 08:30 AM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SCS CSHB 318(JUD) Out of Committee
Moved CSSB 134(JUD) Out of Committee
Moved SCS CSHB 441(JUD) Out of Committee
         SB 134-POLICE INVESTIGATION STANDARDS/ARRESTS                                                                      
8:56:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS announced SB 134 to be up for consideration.                                                                
SENATOR CHARLIE HUGGINS  moved to adopt version C  as the working                                                               
document before the committee. Hearing  no objections, the motion                                                               
SENATOR  CON BUNDE  advised that  the Office  of Victim's  Rights                                                               
(OVR) supports the committee substitute (CS).                                                                                   
8:58:15 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE  said with  a state  as diverse  as Alaska  and the                                                               
challenges of investigation,  not all victims are  treated with a                                                               
high standard of investigation.                                                                                                 
The bill was  created at the request of the  Department of Public                                                               
Safety (DPS). The  bill would charge the  Alaska Police Standards                                                               
Council (APSC)  with creating standards  and protocol  for sexual                                                               
assault investigations and would require  that when an officer is                                                               
privy to  an admission of  guilt that an  arrest must be  made at                                                               
some point during the investigation.                                                                                            
Under current  practices, crime victims  and the public  at large                                                               
have  no  direct  method  to question  the  practices  of  police                                                               
investigations or  conduct. The bill  would work to  resolve that                                                               
issue by  relegating the office of  the APSC the ability  to take                                                               
complaints and resolve issues.                                                                                                  
9:03:28 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GENE THERRIAULT  asked Senator Bunde the  reason the bill                                                               
was tailored to crimes in the  first degree since often there are                                                               
plea bargains, which reduce the charges.                                                                                        
SENATOR BUNDE  advised the  plea-bargaining doesn't  happen until                                                               
after  the charge.  He  wanted  the bill  to  focus  on the  most                                                               
serious crimes.                                                                                                                 
9:05:20 AM                                                                                                                    
WALTER MONEGAN, Anchorage Chief of  Police, voiced support for SB
134. He  said the Department intends  to heighten professionalism                                                               
during investigations.                                                                                                          
SENATOR HOLLIS  FRENCH shared Senator Bunde's  concern that there                                                               
might be  many more cases than  the public is aware  of. He asked                                                               
the number  of cases that might  apply wherein a sex  assault has                                                               
been investigated  but not  brought to charges.  He said  that is                                                               
the person he sees who would go to OVR to file a complaint.                                                                     
MR.  MONEGAN said  there are  about  25 percent  that the  police                                                               
department  can  do  nothing with.  That  number  represents  the                                                               
percentage of  people who  don't have  much information  but feel                                                               
the need  to report a  possible case.  He speculated that  it was                                                               
approximately 100-150 cases a year statewide.                                                                                   
9:10:25 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE advised  Senator French that the  OVR would reserve                                                               
the  right to  review the  case to  see if  it warranted  further                                                               
9:12:51 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH  voiced support  for the  bill but  questioned the                                                               
effective date and  that the offense had to  have occurred before                                                               
July 10, 2003.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR  BUNDE deferred  the question  to Dean  Guaneli from  the                                                               
Department of Law.                                                                                                              
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  Senator Bunde to give the  committee a brief                                                               
summary of the CS.                                                                                                              
SENATOR BUNDE said  the CS is vastly different  than the original                                                               
bill.  The original  bill  allowed that  the  APSC would  develop                                                               
universal  standards  and  then  enforce  them.  Law  enforcement                                                               
agencies disagreed with that concept.                                                                                           
CHAIR SEEKINS noted the fiscal notes have all been updated.                                                                     
9:17:30 AM                                                                                                                    
MARY  ANNE  HENRY,  Director, Office  of  Victim's  Rights  (OVR)                                                               
voiced  support  for the  bill  but  expressed concern  regarding                                                               
timely investigations.  She has doubt  that the OVR  would garner                                                               
the information that  the bill sponsor is seeking.  The reason is                                                               
that the  bill limits the  OVR to only investigating  and keeping                                                               
statistics and  complaints from  a victim. That  leaves a  lot of                                                               
sexual  assaults  that  will  be  missed.  Many  victims  do  not                                                               
complain to the OVR.                                                                                                            
9:19:43 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. HENRY  advised she has only  been working for five  weeks but                                                               
has seen two cases where the victim  did not come to OVR until it                                                               
was too  late so there was  nothing they could do.  The woman had                                                               
originally advised the troopers about  it but failed to follow up                                                               
and the troopers admittedly "dropped the ball."                                                                                 
She  cited  another case  where  they  noticed the  investigation                                                               
seemed to  be taking too long.  When she called to  check into it                                                               
she  found  out the  investigating  agency  hadn't sent  the  DNA                                                               
sample to the lab and nobody at the lab called looking for it.                                                                  
She said  she feared  that if  it is  only limited  to complaints                                                               
from a  victim that the office  would not get the  sexual assault                                                               
cases the  bill sponsor  was trying  to find.  Once a  victim has                                                               
reported the  assault and months go  by, they give up  and do not                                                               
pursue it.                                                                                                                      
9:22:03 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.   HENRY  suggested   having  a   requirement  that   all  law                                                               
enforcement agencies fax  OVR a cover sheet whenever  they take a                                                               
rape  complaint.  The  problem with  tracking  complaints  versus                                                               
investigations is  that her  jurisdiction is  limited and  she is                                                               
only allowed to investigate when a victim complains.                                                                            
9:24:36 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH commended  Ms. Henry  for  her work  and said  he                                                               
envisioned  a   close  relationship  between  OVR   and  APD.  He                                                               
suggested  the two  offices sit  down  on a  quarterly basis  and                                                               
review the cases that are open and prosecutable.                                                                                
MS. HENRY agreed that would be possible.                                                                                        
9:27:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH  asked  whether  the  bill  would  give  her  the                                                               
authority to review police reports and evidence.                                                                                
MS. HENRY said yes.                                                                                                             
SENATOR FRENCH asked  whether she thought the  effective date was                                                               
acceptable.  He noted  that with  new technology  the testing  of                                                               
cold cases via DNA was seeing good results.                                                                                     
MS.  HENRY  said  she  wasn't  involved  in  the  effective  date                                                               
9:31:58 AM                                                                                                                    
DEAN  GUANELI, Chief  Assistant Attorney  General, Department  of                                                               
Law (DOL), explained  the changes in the CS. He  said although he                                                               
appreciated the work on the bill,  it wasn't clear that there was                                                               
a systemic  problem or whether  it was  the case of  a particular                                                               
officer needing  additional training or whether  it was something                                                               
9:36:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  GUANELI  directed  his  comments  to  the  question  of  the                                                               
effective date. He said it was  a reasonable date to choose to go                                                               
back  to because  it would  go back  to a  point where  municipal                                                               
agencies are still liable.                                                                                                      
9:37:43 AM                                                                                                                    
The  way the  CS was  drafted takes  advantage of  OVR's existing                                                               
procedures  and  that  means  that   OVR  investigates  only  the                                                               
complaints  received from  victims. They  can request  and review                                                               
confidential  records and  work  with the  necessary agencies  to                                                               
resolve cases.  He said  it might  be going too  far to  have law                                                               
enforcement agencies reporting to the  OVR because victims have a                                                               
right  to confidentiality  even if  it  is being  reported to  an                                                               
agency of the Legislature, which  OVR is. Victim's rights statute                                                               
limit how much information police can affirmatively divulge.                                                                    
9:41:24 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  GUANELI said  the existing  procedures work  well and  he is                                                               
comfortable with  the CS as  it stands. Commissioner  Tandeske is                                                               
satisfied as well, he said.                                                                                                     
9:42:34 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked Mr.  Guaneli whether  investigatory agencies                                                               
give out standardized information of service to victims.                                                                        
MR. GUANELI said yes. The material varies from agency to agency.                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS expressed an interest  in reviewing the information                                                               
that is provided to victims.                                                                                                    
MS.  HENRY  advised  the  committee  of  the  pamphlet  given  to                                                               
victims. However  it is  very complicated and  she is  working on                                                               
making it clearer.                                                                                                              
9:46:59 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GUESS asked  how children  and mentally  disabled people                                                               
are handled.                                                                                                                    
MS. HENRY said  the legal guardian or parent  generally files the                                                               
MR. GUANELI reminded the committee  that the definition of victim                                                               
for a child victim includes the parent.                                                                                         
9:52:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  Senator Bunde  whether he  approves of  the                                                               
bill as it is with the committee substitute.                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE said the CS was an adequate compromise.                                                                           
CHAIR SEEKINS closed public testimony.                                                                                          
SENATOR    GUESS   moved    CSSB    134(JUD)   with    individual                                                               
recommendations   and   attached   fiscal   notes.   Hearing   no                                                               
objections, the motion carried.                                                                                                 

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