Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/28/1996 09:05 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
           SB 188 VIDEOTAPE INTERVIEW OF ABUSED MINOR                         
 Number 028                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN introduced  SB 188  as the next order of business              
 before the committee.                                                         
 SENATOR MILLER moved that the CS be adopted in lieu of the original           
 bill.  The CS requires mandatory audiotaping while videotaping                
 would be utilized when possible, that is the only change in the CS.           
 Hearing no objection, the CS was adopted.                                     
 SENATOR SALO asked if more public testimony would be taken.                   
 CHAIRMAN GREEN replied yes.                                                   
 SENATOR MILLER pointed out that the next committee of referral is             
 the Senate Judiciary where the entire process would be followed               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN informed the committee that two individuals at the             
 last hearing were not able to present their testimony and were told           
 they would be heard today.  If their testimony is not heard today,            
 Chairman Green ensured that their testimony would be heard in                 
 Senate Judiciary.                                                             
 DIANE WORLEY, Director of the Division of Family & Youth Services             
 (DFYS), said that she had reviewed CSSB 188(HES).  The department             
 maintains its opposition to the bill due to the mandatory aspect of           
 the bill.  The mandatory provision makes the implementation of the            
 bill unwieldy and practically impossible to implement in some parts           
 of the state.  Furthermore, the safety of children would be placed            
 in jeopardy if a taped interview was not possible and the                     
 investigation of the child abuse could not be continued.  She                 
 offered to answer any questions.                                              
 Number 078                                                                    
 SENATOR SALO indicated that requiring audiotaping rather than                 
 videotaping made the bill less wieldy.  DIANE WORLEY agreed, but              
 the bill continues to focus on videotaping as the primary mode of             
 recording when possible.  That focus on videotaping carries a large           
 fiscal note.  Ms. Worley pointed out that one of the goals of DFYS            
 is to do more audiotaping, but the mandatory aspect of the bill               
 could create problems in rural areas or when the recorder breaks              
 down.  The division fears that an investigation would have to be              
 stopped and the child be placed in danger because of the lack of              
 the audiotape.                                                                
 JAYNE ANDREEN, Executive Director of the Council on Domestic                  
 Violence & Sexual Assault, stated that the council has grave                  
 concerns with SB 188.  SB 188 creates difficulty when working with            
 the child in an abuse or neglect case, especially those persons               
 required to report the case or work with the child.  Ms. Andreen              
 informed the committee that often children will make a passing                
 comment or a direct disclosure during a group presentation or play            
 time.  The child needs to have a place where he/she feels safe                
 disclosing such information.  Stopping the process in order to                
 videotape the child, breaks down the process for the child.  Ms.              
 Andreen felt that this would actually circumvent the council's                
 ability to take care of children.                                             
 Number 128                                                                    
 SENATOR MILLER moved that CSSB 188(HES), version F, be moved out of           
 committee with individual recommendations.                                    
 SENATOR SALO objected.  She expressed concern with the possibility            
 that cases may be lost.  Perhaps, encouraging the department to               
 utilize more audio and videotaping without mandating it would be a            
 possibility.  Senator Salo expressed concern with the focus of the            
 trial turning to the technological aspects of the tape, as                    
 literature from other states who have moved in this direction has             
 indicated.  She hoped those issues would be reviewed in Senate                
 Judiciary.  Senator Salo removed her objection.                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN noted that Lauree Hugonin was present and asked if             
 she would like to testify on SB 188 or she could testify in the               
 next committee, Senate Judiciary.  Ms. Hugonin decided to present             
 her comments in Senate Judiciary.                                             
 Number 170                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN said that he shared some of Senator Salo's concerns.            
 He wanted to ensure that the notes of the passing comments of the             
 initial disclosure could be maintained and kept as evidence.  That            
 concern could be addressed and worked on further in Senate                    
 SENATOR MILLER agreed that was the intent.  Senator Miller believed           
 that everyone agreed on the direction of the legislation, sometimes           
 pressure on the department is needed in order to achieve that                 
 direction.  He was willing to work with the department.                       
 Hearing no objection, CSSB 188(HES) was moved from committee with             
 individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                     
 The following written testimony was submitted for the record:                 
 February 9, 1996                                                              
 Senator Lyda Green                                                            
 State of Alaska Senate                                                        
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
 Dear Senator Green,                                                           
 I was present, and wishing to testify, during the Health, Education           
 and Social Services committee meeting today; however, I was not               
 given that opportunity.  I am now conveying to you my adamant                 
 opposition to the passage of Senate Bill 188.                                 
 I am currently Captain in charge of the Anchorage Police                      
 Department, Detective Division.  I have been a police officer for             
 20 years.  I am also secretary of the Steering Committee for the              
 Southcentral Alaska Chapter of the National Committee to Prevent              
 Child Abuse.                                                                  
 Senate Bill 188 signifies a giant step backward in the protection             
 of children who are sexually and physically abused.  This bill ties           
 the hands of law enforcement and will, if passed, prevent the                 
 investigation and prosecution of many child abusers.                          
 Currently, detectives of the Anchorage Police Department videotape            
 interviews with children who are victims of abuse.  That is, when             
 the children can be brought to the police department for the                  
 interview.  We have had situations where the child is so                      
 traumatized by the abuse that our only option was to interview the            
 child at the hospital, the school, the home, or the church.                   
 Forcing a child in under certain circumstances would be nothing               
 less than cruel on our part.  And to lose the ability to further              
 the investigation and presentation for prosecution is unthinkable.            
 If we have an adult victim of a physical or sexual assault we are             
 not videotaping them.  We are taking great care to afford them the            
 dignity they deserve and prevent them further trauma and                      
 humiliation by the system.  Why would we want something less than             
 that for the children?                                                        
 If there is a specific problem identified I would be infavor of               
 addressing that problem, through training, or supervision, or                 
 protocol.  I can tell you when a case comes in where a custody                
 battle rages we look very closely at why a person is reporting.  We           
 neither assume it is a false allegation, nor do we assume it is               
 genuine; but we do look at all possibile motives.  The percentage             
 of false reporting is very low in comparison to the genuine reports           
 of abuse we receive.  These cases are identified through an in-               
 depth, skilled and professional investigation.                                
 Whereas, I have no objection to an expedient investigation into               
 allegations of child abuse, I do object to potentially losing the             
 ability to investigate and send forward for prosecution cases where           
 the probable cause exists that a child has been abused - only                 
 because a videotaped session was not possible or practical.                   
 Whereas, on the face this bill appears to support the interest of             
 the children, in reality it will cause many great harm.  Please do            
 not pass SB 188.  I agree with all those who testified in                     
 opposition, today.  The best approach is the enhancement of                   
 training and the establishment of protocol.  Thank you.                       
 Sincerely Yours,                                                              
 Captain Shirley A. Warner                                                     
 Detective Division                                                            

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