Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

03/17/2005 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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         SB 134-POLICE INVESTIGATION STANDARDS/ARRESTS                                                                      
3:40:30 PM                                                                                                                    
VICE-CHAIR  THOMAS  WAGONER  announced  SB   134  to  be  up  for                                                               
consideration  and asked  for  a motion  to  adopt the  committee                                                               
substitute (CS).                                                                                                                
SENATOR  KIM ELTON  moved CSSB  134, \Y  version, as  the working                                                               
document. There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                          
3:41:14 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR CON  BUNDE, Sponsor,  told members  he is  expecting more                                                               
information from the Department of  Public Safety (DPS) and asked                                                               
that  the committee  take  no action  until  that information  is                                                               
He reported that  Alaska has the unfortunate  and shameful legacy                                                               
of leading the  nation in sexual assaults. Alaska  is diverse and                                                               
has  many  small  communities.  If  those  communities  had  more                                                               
resources, they  would be better  able to address the  high level                                                               
of sexual  assaults. SB  134 would  require the  Police Standards                                                               
Council to set  a level of standards for  investigation in sexual                                                               
assault cases  and to enforce those  standards. Small communities                                                               
may  not have  access  to the  latest  techniques, equipment  and                                                               
training and may be unaware of what the public might expect.                                                                    
The legislation  seeks to  create a common  standard so  that the                                                               
expectations  for  police  enforcement   would  be  the  same  in                                                               
Anchorage as  in a village.  The Police Standards  Council should                                                               
decide  on the  professionalism of  any police  officer regarding                                                               
discipline, reprimand  and revocation of certification.  With few                                                               
exceptions, police  officers maintain  high standards and  do the                                                               
best job possible.                                                                                                              
The Alaska  Medical Association disciplines  its own  members and                                                               
the Police  Standards Council should discipline  police officers,                                                               
he  asserted. The  committee substitute  addresses a  requirement                                                               
for  arrest  by giving  police  officers  more latitude  to  make                                                               
arrests based on probable cause.                                                                                                
3:45:54 PM                                                                                                                    
VICE-CHAIR WAGONER announced a brief at-ease at 3:46:44 PM.                                                                   
3:47:36 PM                                                                                                                    
TAMARA DELUCIA, Office of Victims  Rights, stated support for the                                                               
measure  to standardize  procedures and  to require  cases to  be                                                               
submitted to  the district attorney  (DA) for review.  This would                                                               
benefit  victims in  particular  in  light of  the  high rate  of                                                               
sexual assault crimes in Alaska.                                                                                                
SB 134 provides a very  good opportunity for the Police Standards                                                               
Council to  level the playing  field and bring  rural communities                                                               
in line  with investigation standards  that exist in  urban areas                                                               
such as Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.                                                                                        
Small  villages  in  rural  communities  are  at  a  disadvantage                                                               
because of the lack of proximity  to troopers and the type of law                                                               
enforcement system  that's available.  Anything that can  be done                                                               
to assist  Village Public  Safety Officers  (VPSO) in  pursuing a                                                               
quality investigation can only be viewed as positive.                                                                           
3:49:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON read new language from version Y:                                                                                 
     (4) shall  make an arrest  at the time a  peace officer                                                                
     determines  to  be  appropriate   and  when  the  peace                                                                
     officer has  reasonable cause to  believe that  a crime                                                                
     has been  committed and the  person to be  arrested has                                                                
     admitted committing the  crime to a peace  officer or a                                                                
     peace  officer  has  listened to  a  recording  of  the                                                                
Having assumed it works that way  now, he asked for an example to                                                               
the contrary.                                                                                                                   
MS.  DELUCIA  responded the  Office  of  Victims' Rights  doesn't                                                               
necessarily support  the mandatory arrest provision,  but it does                                                               
support Section  2 that allows  the Council to  adopt regulations                                                               
for   minimum    standards   for   the   conduct    of   criminal                                                               
investigations. She particularly  favors delivering investigation                                                               
results to  the prosecutor,  addressing victims  safety concerns,                                                               
writing  incident reports  and securing  the  crime scene.  Every                                                               
crime  is different  and certain  evidence collection  issues and                                                               
arrest  determinations shouldn't  be  standardized. However,  for                                                               
the  most part  they  support  the opportunity  for  APSC to  set                                                               
VICE-CHAIR  WAGONER noted  that Senator  Bunde wanted  to address                                                               
the question as well.                                                                                                           
SENATOR BUNDE referenced the new  language and told Senator Elton                                                               
that unfortunately that  isn't the case. SB 134 is  the result of                                                               
a conversation with a constituent  about an assault that occurred                                                               
in which the  offender admitted guilt, but no  arrest took place.                                                               
In discussing  the situation with police  authorities, he learned                                                               
the  police   often  do  not   arrest  a  person  early   in  the                                                               
investigation so that they can build a stronger case.                                                                           
His concern relates  to the need to protect the  public while not                                                               
tying  the hands  of law  enforcement. He  suggested placing  the                                                               
names of such  suspects in the system to  assist in investigating                                                               
other  unsolved cases  because many  offenders  are actually  re-                                                               
SENATOR ELTON  asked if the decision  to wait to arrest  is based                                                               
on the  premise that you don't  arrest the "little fish"  to find                                                               
the "bigger fish."                                                                                                              
SENATOR BUNDE  said an arrest  might be  delayed so that  the big                                                               
fish is thoroughly hooked before prosecution begins.                                                                            
3:53:37 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  SARALYN  TABACHNICK,  Executive Director,  Aiding  Women  in                                                               
Abuse and  Rape Emergencies (AWARE),  spoke on behalf  of victims                                                               
of sexual assault  and domestic violence. She  explained that the                                                               
crime of assault  or rape is one of the  most difficult to report                                                               
because victims  often feel shame  or a sense  of responsibility.                                                               
Judgments are  made about rape  survivors that aren't  made about                                                               
other violent crimes survivors.                                                                                                 
Typically peace officers do a  good job of investigating domestic                                                               
and sexual  assaults, but sexual assault  survivors need messages                                                               
that are clear in words and  action so they know an investigation                                                               
is  moving  forward to  build  the  best  case possible.  SB  134                                                               
provides accountability,  which can  have a tremendous  impact on                                                               
holding  offenders accountable  and  allowing  survivors to  heal                                                               
from the victimization.                                                                                                         
3:55:52 PM                                                                                                                    
VICE-CHAIR WAGONER  announced he would  set CSSB 134,  version Y,                                                               
aside until next week.                                                                                                          

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