Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/03/1994 09:05 AM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 The Senate Community & Regional Affairs Committee was called to               
 order by Chairman Randy Phillips at 9:05 a.m.  He brought  SB 203             
 (MUNICIPAL POLICE SERVICES) before the committee as the first order           
 of business, but stated that after taking testimony on the bill, it           
 was his intent to hold the bill to see what action the House of               
 Representatives takes on the floor on a similar piece of                      
 legislation, HB 18.                                                           
 C.E. SWACKHAMMER, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Public Safety,           
 stated that of the three different draft committee substitutes on             
 SB 203 before the committee, the Department of Public Safety                  
 supports the version that takes the approach recommended by the               
 Task Force on Governmental Roles (Work draft 8-LS0626\D), which the           
 department believes is the best public policy.  It would allow                
 assemblies in a unified municipality, notwithstanding provisions in           
 the home rule charter, to establish, operate, alter, or abolish a             
 service area to furnish police protection and law enforcement                 
 Speaking to Senator Rieger's proposed committee substitute (Work              
 draft 8-LS0626/M), which would continue trooper police protection             
 to the Hillside and Girdwood areas, Deputy Commissioner Swackhammer           
 said presently, the Anchorage Post spends slightly more than 60               
 percent of their time in response directly to the Hillside/Girdwood           
 area at a current cost of $1,940,663.64.  It has been the position            
 of the Commissioner of Public Safety to withdraw troopers from                
 urban areas which are authorized to provide police protection on              
 their own, and to concentrate the department's resources in rural             
 and unorganized areas of the State.                                           
 Number 150                                                                    
 SENATOR RIEGER pointed out that the department has some suggested             
 amendments to his version of the bill:  a time period longer than             
 three years to allow for personnel planning; a gear-up process for            
 recruiting additional troopers; and a ceiling of one trooper for              
 each 1,000 people in the municipality.                                        
 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER added that the department would               
 like to see Section 3 deleted because it would not provide the                
 commissioner any flexibility in determining the appropriate number            
 of troopers for an area.  The department also suggests some wording           
 changes to better define what the costs are.                                  
 Number 196                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN asked what the effect would be on Section 2 if                  
 Section 3 is deleted.  SENATOR RIEGER answered that Section 3 was             
 intended as a fall-back position in case an agreement couldn't be             
 reached, and deleting it would not have an effect on Section 2.  He           
 stated that he is confident that there is a reasonable full-cost              
 proposal that can be put forward.  DEPUTY COMMISSIONER SWACKHAMMER            
 added that Section  2 also allows the department some flexibility             
 because the residents get charged for what services are provided.             
 Number 250                                                                    
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS opened the public hearing on SB 203 to                 
 witnesses waiting to testify at the Anchorage Legislative                     
 Information Office.                                                           
 Number 260                                                                    
 RICHARD WEINIG, an Anchorage attorney, a member of the Rabbit Creek           
 Community Council and a Hillside resident, said under the Rieger              
 bill and taking the figures drawn from the department's position              
 paper on it, 60 percent of that cost for the actual trooper                   
 services and 30 percent of dispatch would be paid by the service              
 area.  He said that is a revenue generator for the state that he              
 thinks would be particularly attractive to the Legislature.                   
 Mr. Weinig said Commissioner's Burton concern that there would be             
 a loss of local control over police protection is a very small                
 concern with the citizens of Anchorage because a majority of the              
 ordinances are "flatland ordinances" that have no concern                     
 whatsoever for the Hillside.                                                  
 Mr. Weinig voiced his concern with Senator Kelly's proposed                   
 committee substitute.  He said for the Legislature to legislatively           
 dictate that a portion of the Bill of Rights of a charter is null             
 and void is very poor public policy, and such an abrogation of the            
 Bill of Rights, after the fact, is dishonorable.                              
 Concluding, Mr. Weinig said it is much better public policy to let            
 those who seek services pay for their services and those who do not           
 want services to be let alone by government.                                  
 Number 369                                                                    
 DUANE UDLAND, Deputy Chief, Anchorage Police Department, said in              
 previous hearings on this issue, it has been suggested that the               
 department was not professional or was not up to the task of                  
 providing police service to the Hillside.  He said he has the                 
 highest regard for the Alaska State Troopers, and there are more              
 similarities than there are dissimilarities between the troopers              
 and the police department.  The Anchorage Police Department has a             
 lot in common with the troopers in the areas of training and                  
 advanced schooling.                                                           
 Deputy Chief Udland stated the quality of the officers at the                 
 Anchorage Police Department is very high, and the issue that the              
 Anchorage Police Department is not professional "does not hold                
 water."  Also, policing in a rural area is no different than                  
 policing in a city area - it is the same value system and it is the           
 same laws.                                                                    
 Concluding his comments, Deputy Chief Udland said Commissioner                
 Burton and Deputy Commissioner Swackhammer are making decisions               
 based on public policy and what is best for their organization.               
 Although Anchorage is a good place to be working and living in, he            
 doesn't think the committee should place any weight on the fact               
 that maybe some of the troopers don't agree with the decisions of             
 the trooper administration.                                                   
 Number 465                                                                    
 BARBARA WEINIG, President, Rabbit Creek Community Council, spoke to           
 a recent survey she sent out to 5,000 property owners.  The survey            
 showed that the respondents are willing to pay more taxes, but they           
 want trooper coverage.  Senator Rieger's bill allows the residents            
 of the upper Hillside to get used to paying for police protection,            
 and it contains a sunset provision at which time the residents                
 could make a change if they decided they wanted something                     
 Number 490                                                                    
 SENATOR RIEGER commented that there is a citizenry that is willing            
 to organize themselves and pay for a service and, in contrast,                
 there is a management problem where there are attempts by                     
 management or by the governing body itself and not the populace to            
 say "No, we don't want to let you choose the service you want and             
 pay for the service you want.  We want you to do something else               
 which we think is best for you."  He said this is a very classic              
 confrontation between a good government solution to an issue in the           
 area he represents and a bad government solution.  He added this              
 has nothing to do with willingness to pay for a service; it has to            
 do with paying for the service that they want.                                
 Number 506                                                                    
 SENATOR ADAMS requested that a copy of the survey sent out by Ms.             
 Weinig be provided to the committee.                                          
 Number 515                                                                    
 MARIBETH BROWN, a Hillside resident and Chair of the Southeast                
 Anchorage Police Protection Task Force, said that elected officials           
 should be extremely cautious about taking a position that they know           
 what is best for the people.  The people in Southeast Anchorage,              
 the Hillside, Turnigan Arm and Girdwood have expressed very                   
 strongly what their preferences are, and that needs to be taken               
 into account on this issue.                                                   
 Number 538                                                                    
 SENATOR ZHAROFF said he would like to have seen more of a response            
 to these types of surveys so that some decisions could be made                
 based on the surveys.  He said if this is a major problem,  he                
 would have expected at least a 50 percent response from this area,            
 particularly if we are going to continue with state funded                    
 protection.   SENATOR RIEGER responded that there is a high level             
 of concern and that with this type of survey a 20 percent response            
 was really good.                                                              
 Number 570                                                                    
 JOSH FINK, staff to Senator Kelly, quoted figures from the April              
 1993 election which showed that the 46.2 percent of the lower                 
 Hillside wanted to join a police service area, 53.8 percent did               
 not.  He said as you go up the hill, 33.7 percent wanted to join a            
 police service area, 66 percent did not.  In the Turnigan Arm area,           
 27 percent want to join a police service area, 72 percent did not.            
 Number 575                                                                    
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS closed the public hearing on SB 203 and                
 stated it would be back before the committee the following week.              

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