Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211

02/11/2009 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY

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Audio Topic
01:31:09 PM Start
01:31:52 PM SJR3
01:34:31 PM Overview: Department of Public Safety
03:00:49 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Overview: Dept of Public Safety TELECONFERENCED
Commissioner Joseph A. Masters
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Moved SJR 3 Out of Committee
<Bill Hearing Continued from 02/09/09>
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 11, 2009                                                                                        
                           1:31 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Hollis French, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Bill Wielechowski, Vice Chair                                                                                           
Senator Kim Elton                                                                                                               
Senator Lesil McGuire                                                                                                           
Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                         
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 3                                                                                                   
Relating to carrying firearms in national parks.                                                                                
     MOVED SJR 3 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                               
Overview: Department of Public Safety by Commissioner Joseph A.                                                                 
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record.                                                                                                   
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
JOSEPH A. MASTERS, Commissioner                                                                                                 
Department of Public Safety                                                                                                     
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Delivered an overview of the Department of                                                               
Public Safety.                                                                                                                  
COLONEL AUDIE HOLLOWAY, Director                                                                                                
Division of Alaska State Troopers                                                                                               
Department of Public Safety                                                                                                     
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to questions related to the                                                                    
overview of the Department of Public Safety.                                                                                    
DANIAL SPENCER, Director                                                                                                        
Division of Administrative Services                                                                                             
Department of Public Safety                                                                                                     
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to  questions on the Department of                                                             
Public Safety overview.                                                                                                         
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:31:09 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HOLLIS   FRENCH  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 1:31  p.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order were  Senators Therriault, Wielechowski, Elton  and French.                                                               
Senator McGuire arrived soon thereafter.                                                                                        
                SJR  3-FIREARMS IN NATIONAL PARK                                                                            
1:31:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  FRENCH announced  the consideration  of SJR  3, which  was                                                               
held over  from the last  meeting to give members  an opportunity                                                               
to  think over  the policy  it  urges. Finding  no questions,  he                                                               
asked for a motion.                                                                                                             
1:32:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  THERRIAULT moved  to report  SJR 3  from committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  attached  fiscal note(s).  There                                                               
being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                                          
1:32:05 PM at ease to sign papers.                                                                                              
             ^Overview: Department of Public Safety                                                                         
1:34:31 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH announced  the next order of business is  to hear an                                                               
overview  of  the Department  of  Public  Safety by  Commissioner                                                               
JOSEPH  A. MASTERS,  Commissioner,  Department  of Public  Safety                                                               
(DPS), described  the PowerPoint  as an informational  brief that                                                               
outlines  aspects of  the department.  He provided  the committee                                                               
with copies of the Council  on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault                                                               
(CDVSA) FY2009-2019 Strategic Plan  along with several CDVSA data                                                               
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS   named  the   divisions  within   the  DPS                                                               
including the  Division of Administrative Services,  the Division                                                               
of Statewide Services, the Division  of Fire and Life Safety, the                                                               
Division of  Alaska State  Troopers, and  the Division  of Alaska                                                               
Wildlife  Troopers. Administratively  housed within  DPS are  the                                                               
Alcoholic  Beverage  Control  Board  ("ABC  Board"),  the  Alaska                                                               
Police  Standards Council  (APSC),  and the  Council on  Domestic                                                               
Violence  and   Sexual  Assault   (CDVSA).  The  format   of  the                                                               
presentation is  that primary functions  of the divisions  are in                                                               
the left column and highlights are on the right.                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH said he found the format to be extremely useful.                                                                   
COMMISSIONER MASTERS relayed that in  2008 the Division of Alaska                                                               
State Troopers  (AST) responded  to more  than 119,000  calls for                                                               
service, about  10 percent  of which were  later referred  to the                                                               
justice  system  for  prosecution.  In 2008,  13  homicides  were                                                               
investigated,  all  of which  have  been  solved. The  bureau  of                                                               
investigations also  assists other entities  with investigations;                                                               
currently about six  are ongoing. There is a cold  case unit with                                                               
four homicide investigators  working 72 cases. To  date they have                                                               
closed 29 cold cases and expect to close more in coming months.                                                                 
1:39:09 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON  asked if a closed  cold case means that  there was                                                               
an arrest  and referral  for prosecution or  that DPS  closed the                                                               
case because of diminishing returns.                                                                                            
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS explained  that  DPS classifies  a case  as                                                               
closed when it's  solved, but that doesn't  necessarily mean that                                                               
a  criminal case  is brought.  The suspect  may be  deceased, for                                                               
example. Several,  such as the  Bonnie Craig homicide,  have been                                                               
high profile.                                                                                                                   
1:39:43 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  FRENCH   noted  that  Senator   McGuire  had   joined  the                                                               
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS  highlighted   the  declines  in  marijuana                                                               
growing  and meth  [methamphetamine] lab  cases and  increases in                                                               
heroin, OxyContin  and other  drug import  cases. Fewer  meth lab                                                               
cases does  not mean less  drugs on  the street, it's  that there                                                               
are  other venues  for importation.  That could  account for  the                                                               
increase in drug importation seizures.                                                                                          
CHAIR  FRENCH  said  it  makes  sense with  meth  that  the  laws                                                               
tightening  access  to the  raw  ingredients  have made  it  more                                                               
difficult to  manufacture meth  at home. To  the extent  that the                                                               
amount of  meth is steady, it  just means that more  is imported.                                                               
With respect to marijuana he asked  if he would contend that less                                                               
is grown statewide, that it's not  being detected or that more is                                                               
being imported.                                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER MASTERS  replied it  can be difficult  to determine,                                                               
but one  factor could be  that huge resources are  being diverted                                                               
to take care  of meth labs leaving fewer officers  to handle drug                                                               
and other  offenses. He  doesn't suspect  that less  marijuana is                                                               
being grown in Alaska.                                                                                                          
CHAIR FRENCH speculated on the difficulty of measuring effort.                                                                  
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS responded  they've tried  to judge  that by                                                               
looking at  the value of  the seizures.  Last year, the  value of                                                               
illegal drugs taken off the street is estimated at $19 million.                                                                 
CHAIR FRENCH  asked for an email  follow up on how  that compares                                                               
to other years.                                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER   MASTERS  noted   that  there   were  291   alcohol                                                               
importation arrests  last year -  an increase of over  30 percent                                                               
from 2007. He's  cautious about attaching numbers  but it appears                                                               
that in  Alaska State  Trooper areas,  sexual assault  and sexual                                                               
abuse of a  minor cases decreased by a  noticeable margin between                                                               
2007 and 2008. It's not  clear whether crimes have been displaced                                                               
to other  areas such as  Anchorage and Fairbanks. "We  don't have                                                               
numbers that  we can report  to you  regarding how many  cases or                                                               
what kind of trends Anchorage  or Fairbanks has been experiencing                                                               
over this past year."                                                                                                           
1:44:30 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  FRENCH  said  from  his   perspective  this  is  just  the                                                               
beginning of  what he intends  to be  a long dialog  between this                                                               
committee,  DPS, STAR,  and others.  "It galls  me that  we still                                                               
have a  horrible sex  assault and  sex abuse of  a minor  rate in                                                               
this state."  He intends  to work on  this until  there's nothing                                                               
more to be  done or his time  in office is over. "I  hope that we                                                               
can work together on that and learn  as much as we can and figure                                                               
out what we're  doing wrong. … I  want to figure out  what we can                                                               
do better."                                                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS continued  with the  presentation. Prisoner                                                               
transports  increased  to  over  67,000  in  2008.  Recently  the                                                               
department   identified  seven   trooper   positions  that   were                                                               
primarily  dedicated   to  doing  court  service   officer  (CSO)                                                               
functions  such  as  transports,  serving  writs  and  protecting                                                               
courtrooms.  Seven  CSOs  were  reallocated  to  those  positions                                                               
thereby  freeing  seven  troopers   to  provide  law  enforcement                                                               
services.  There   were  two  conversions   in  Bethel,   two  in                                                               
Nome/Kotzebue, one in Dillingham, one  in Kenai and one in Anchor                                                               
CHAIR FRENCH  asked if those  were new positions or  if personnel                                                               
were moved from one place to another.                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER MASTERS  explained that the original  thought was to                                                               
convert vacant trooper positions to  CSOs and potentially put the                                                               
troopers back on the street more quickly.                                                                                       
1:47:10 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON asked if the  judiciary RSAs (Reimbursable Services                                                               
Agreement) money back  to DPS for the services it  provides or if                                                               
it's an item in the DPS budget.                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER MASTERS  replied it's a  budget item because  DPS is                                                               
statutorily  responsible for  prisoner  transports and  courtroom                                                               
SENATOR ELTON said  he'd be interested in the  history because it                                                               
seems that there would be some  sort of arrangement if one branch                                                               
of government is providing security  to another. He suggested Mr.                                                               
Spencer might send a response to the committee.                                                                                 
CHAIR  FRENCH agreed  it would  be fine  to send  the information                                                               
through his office.                                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS   explained  that  in  2008   the  division                                                               
conducted  about   740  search   and  rescue   (SAR)  operations,                                                               
resulting in 289 saved lives. A  new plan in 2009 is the creation                                                               
of the  Bureau of  Highway Patrol. It  will focus  highway safety                                                               
efforts,  collaborate with  other agencies  in regions  with high                                                               
traffic fatality  rates and collaborate  with the  Alaska Highway                                                               
Safety Office.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR  FRENCH reemphasized  that 2009  is first  year there  is a                                                               
specific and separate Bureau of Highway Patrol.                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER MASTERS said  yes. It's always been  a core function                                                               
within  the department  and the  trooper division,  but early  on                                                               
when the  department's name was  changed from the  highway patrol                                                               
it  lost that  part of  its identity.  The responsibilities  were                                                               
placed  on  individual  detachments  and  the  idea  here  is  to                                                               
coordinate  the efforts  and carry  the highway  safety plan  and                                                               
other safety initiatives forward.                                                                                               
CHAIR FRENCH asked him to follow  up with data to tell whether or                                                               
not the  increased safety efforts  on the road  between Anchorage                                                               
and Girdwood have made a difference.  The only evidence he has is                                                               
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS  replied he  can  say  from experience  and                                                               
studies  that  increased  law enforcement  presence  does  change                                                               
driving behavior.                                                                                                               
CHAIR  FRENCH  commented  that  there's  something  about  seeing                                                               
another  person getting  pulled  over that  makes  you mind  your                                                               
1:51:49 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS highlighted  the  highway safety  corridors                                                               
awaiting  implementation  and  emphasized that  they  don't  make                                                               
sense  without  an  enforcement component.  Continuing  with  the                                                               
PowerPoint,  he  reported that  in  2008  there were  62  highway                                                               
fatalities, 19  of which were alcohol-related.  Currently AST has                                                               
22 vacancies  and the Alaska  Wildlife Troopers (AWT) has  5. DPS                                                               
anticipates those positions  will be filled from  the academy and                                                               
from lateral hires.                                                                                                             
CHAIR  FRENCH  asked  if  he's  saying he  expects  to  have  all                                                               
positions filled by the end of 2009.                                                                                            
COMMISSIONER MASTERS  said yes; the commendation  goes to Colonel                                                               
Holloway, his  recruitment team  and the  troopers who  are doing                                                               
CHAIR FRENCH extended congratulations.                                                                                          
1:54:09 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON asked where the recruits are coming from.                                                                         
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS said  it's  a combination  of in-state  and                                                               
out-of-state applicants.  "We have several in-state  lateral hire                                                               
applicants  that  are  already  certified  police  officers,  but                                                               
several from out-of-state as well."                                                                                             
SENATOR ELTON  noted that DPS  hiring success has  sometimes been                                                               
difficult for community police departments.                                                                                     
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked how AST  per capita numbers compare to                                                               
those recommended by national organizations.                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS replied  there isn't  consensus and  it can                                                               
vary depending on whether you're  talking about a municipality or                                                               
a rural  county. The range  is from 1 per  1,000 to 3  per 1,000.                                                               
Some of the  difficulty DPS deals with is geography  and the time                                                               
it  takes to  respond. They  also  consider the  impact of  other                                                               
officers  in  the  area  whether  they're  VPSOs,  tribal  police                                                               
officers or  village police officers.  Colonel Holloway  has done                                                               
work internally,  but we  could also use  some help  from outside                                                               
the agency to come up with accurate numbers, he said.                                                                           
1:57:21 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said he'd be  interested in the data DPS has                                                               
compiled because  he's heard  the state  is hundreds  of officers                                                               
short.  He then  asked  how many  people are  coming  in to  fill                                                               
positions from out of state.                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MASTERS offered to supply the information.                                                                         
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  what  it costs  to  train  a  state                                                               
1:58:16 PM                                                                                                                    
DANIAL  SPENCER, Director,  Division of  Administrative Services,                                                               
Department of Public  Safety, said it costs about  $9,500 to send                                                               
a trooper through the academy,  not including equipment costs. He                                                               
offered to get exact figures.                                                                                                   
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  said  he'd  also like  to  know  what  the                                                               
retention rate  is for out-of-state recruits,  particularly those                                                               
assigned to Bush posts.                                                                                                         
COMMISSIONER MASTERS suggested that  Colonel Holloway could offer                                                               
his observations if not numbers.                                                                                                
1:59:08 PM                                                                                                                    
COLONEL  AUDIE  HOLLOWAY,  Director,  Division  of  Alaska  State                                                               
Troopers,  Department  of Public  Safety,  said  he doesn't  know                                                               
exactly  how many  out-of-state recruits  "make it"  particularly                                                               
when they're  assigned to rural  posts. The completion  rate thru                                                               
the academy is  74 percent and the completion  rate through field                                                               
training is 83 percent.                                                                                                         
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked  if the salaries and  wage packets are                                                               
sufficient  to attract  and  retain  troopers, particularly  when                                                               
compared to the Anchorage and Fairbanks police departments.                                                                     
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS acknowledged  that making  more money  is a                                                               
consideration and the Anchorage  Police Department (APD) does pay                                                               
more. He  offered to  provide numbers on  how many  troopers have                                                               
gone to other agencies and the APD for a higher salary.                                                                         
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said he would like to see that data.                                                                       
2:01:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MCGUIRE  asked him to  expand on efforts in  rural Alaska                                                               
to address sexual assault and sexual abuse of minors.                                                                           
COMMISSIONER MASTERS said a number  of things are occurring, some                                                               
are  new. A  key  to  providing better  service  is  to have  all                                                               
positions filled. That  is happening but it will  take awhile for                                                               
it  to  filter into  rural  Alaska.  The AST/CSO  conversions  he                                                               
mentioned will  have a  more immediate  effect because  that will                                                               
put seven  people into  position to  do investigations.  In areas                                                               
like  Bethel and  Nome the  two  extra people  primarily will  be                                                               
doing felony investigations, which  will be significant. They are                                                               
also continuing sexual assault and  domestic violence training of                                                               
officers,   advocates    and   judges   to    better   coordinate                                                               
investigations.  As  a result  of  collaboration  the quality  of                                                               
investigations and the service to victims is getting better.                                                                    
2:04:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH informed the committee  that there will be a hearing                                                               
soon to talk about what happens  between the 1,000 cases that are                                                               
investigated and  the 200 convictions  that result -  where cases                                                               
fall out of prosecution and conviction.                                                                                         
SENATOR MCGUIRE  observed that prevention or  intervention at the                                                               
right time  makes the  difference. Often,  troopers are  the only                                                               
lifeline in rural  areas and she believes that they  might play a                                                               
broader   role   than   just   the   traditional   response   and                                                               
investigation.  It's something  to think  on because  this is  an                                                               
epidemic, she said.                                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER MASTERS replied something DPS  could do better is to                                                               
collaborate  with  entities  that  are  involved  in  prevention,                                                               
victimization  and  prosecutions.   Investigating  and  gathering                                                               
evidence for  prosecution is the  primary focus but they  can and                                                               
do work outside those confines.  The Council on Domestic Violence                                                               
&  Sexual Assault  (CDVSA) strategic  plan outlines  the entities                                                               
that are working  together to do just what  you're talking about,                                                               
he  said.  It  talks  about prevention,  providing  shelters  and                                                               
services  to  victims, where  to  get  immediate assistance,  and                                                               
holding  perpetrators  accountable.  It involves  the  advocates,                                                               
police  entities, courts  and prosecutors  to figure  out how  to                                                               
move forward on a broad scale and attack the problem.                                                                           
2:08:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON said it's important  to note that particularly with                                                               
sexual  assault and  sexual abuse  cases,  the reports  represent                                                               
just  a small  percentage of  the  incidents. Thanks  also go  to                                                               
Deputy  Commissioner Glass  who was  instrumental in  getting the                                                               
various groups  together to talk  about the spectrum  rather than                                                               
just the  investigation at  the end.  "I just  really appreciated                                                               
his work," he said.                                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS acknowledged  Colonel Holloway's  good work                                                               
as  well  and noted  that  wildlife  troopers also  attended  the                                                               
training. "The department is fully involved and fully engaged."                                                                 
SENATOR MCGUIRE commented  that Alaska is the premier  in so many                                                               
areas and she would very much  like it to have the best strategic                                                               
plan for preventing  sexual abuse and assault.  She looks forward                                                               
to more dialog.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR FRENCH added that it's a long-term effort.                                                                                
2:11:35 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS said  DPS has  10 contracts  with nonprofit                                                               
corporations to administer the VPSO  program filling 51 positions                                                               
statewide. Initially  59 were  hired to  attend the  VPSO academy                                                               
but  seven resigned;  high  attrition  out of  the  academy is  a                                                               
continual problem. The FY09 budget authorizes 60 VPSO hires.                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  asked if that's  60 new  positions or to  bring the                                                               
total to 60.                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS  clarified that  it's  to  bring the  total                                                               
number to  60. The VPSO  program is  a little different  than the                                                               
trooper program  in that  the number of  VPSO positions  rise and                                                               
fall according to the available  money. Significant things within                                                               
the program include  increasing pay from $17 per hour  to $21 per                                                               
hour.  Coupled with  continued funding  for probation  and parole                                                               
responsibilities,  individual VPSOs  can start  out making  about                                                               
$23 per hour. The increased wage has brought increased interest.                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH suggested that with  the current economic conditions                                                               
DPS could recruit in the Lower-48.                                                                                              
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS   said  that  VPSOs  that   understand  the                                                               
communities and life  in rural Alaska stay  longer. They continue                                                               
to take  advantage of  federal grants  to assist  with equipment,                                                               
supplies and  VPO (village police officer)  training in villages.                                                               
Last year  there were 2,340  village oversight visits  to support                                                               
VPSOs and they'll continue to strive for more.                                                                                  
SENATOR ELTON  asked if that number  is up or down  over the last                                                               
five or six years.                                                                                                              
COMMISSIONER MASTERS replied it's up a bit.                                                                                     
CHAIR FRENCH asked  if the visits are to show  a presence and not                                                               
to investigate or make an arrest.                                                                                               
COMMISSIONER MASTERS clarified  that they're for both.  If a VPSO                                                               
has a  problem that  required a trooper  response, that  would be                                                               
counted as an oversight visit. If  a trooper were to provide one-                                                               
on-one training or mentoring, that too would count.                                                                             
2:17:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH recalled  that during the VPSO task  force there was                                                               
a  recurring  cry  from  four rural  villages  for  more  trooper                                                               
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS  highlighted a  study  by  the UAA  Justice                                                               
Center  from the  early 1990s  that talked  about VPSO  retention                                                               
issues. It  outlined different factors  that contributed  to VPSO                                                               
retention including: wages, support  from the nonprofit employer,                                                               
support from AST and support from the community.                                                                                
Over  the  past  several  years, VPSOs  have  received  increased                                                               
training  in   DUI  [driving   under  the   influence],  domestic                                                               
violence,  and  sexual  assault  enforcement.  Last  year,  VPSOs                                                               
conducted 238 domestic violence and  assault arrests, which is up                                                               
51 percent from  the previous year, and 57 DUI  arrests, which is                                                               
up  63  percent from  previous  years.  VPSOs are  becoming  more                                                               
effective and it's taking the burden off of troopers.                                                                           
CHAIR  FRENCH  asked  who  pays  for  the  D.A.R.E.  program  and                                                               
questioned whether it really works.                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER MASTERS conceded that  there is controversy over how                                                               
effective  it  is,  but  it  does have  the  benefit  of  getting                                                               
positive  interaction   between  officers   and  kids.   If  that                                                               
interaction  reduces  criminal acts  later  on  or if  it  sparks                                                               
interest  in  law enforcement  as  a  profession, that's  a  huge                                                               
CHAIR FRENCH applauded the efforts to  go to the schools and make                                                               
friends with the  kids, but he just doesn't know  if the D.A.R.E.                                                               
program  makes a  difference. "Maybe  you could  do exactly  what                                                               
you're doing now as far  as community integration and familiarity                                                               
without the program and be money ahead."                                                                                        
COMMISSIONER MASTERS reported that most  of the program is funded                                                               
with federal grant money.                                                                                                       
CHAIR   FRENCH  suggested   that  it's   something  for   further                                                               
MR. SPENCER  added that a lot  of the funding for  D.A.R.E. comes                                                               
from the nonprofit via private donations.                                                                                       
2:21:51 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS  said  Alaska Wildlife  Troopers  (AWT)  no                                                               
longer  operate under  the Alaska  State Troopers.  In 2008,  the                                                               
wildlife troopers  conducted over 58,000  resource-user contacts,                                                               
which are  up from  the previous year.  The violation  to contact                                                               
ratio  is 8.5  percent for  2008, which  is a  decrease from  the                                                               
previous  year.  It  appears  that  contacts  reduce  violations.                                                               
Another  fairly new  area for  wildlife troopers  is recreational                                                               
boater safety. In 2008 they  had about 8,200 contacts. The number                                                               
of recreational  boating deaths in  2007 was  17, and in  2008 it                                                               
was 12. The decline has been  steady and can be attributed to the                                                               
combined efforts of  the U.S. Coast Guard,  Department of Natural                                                               
Resources, and the Boating Safety Program.                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS  said  the AWT  continues  its  cooperative                                                               
efforts with the U.S. Fish  and Wildlife Service and the National                                                               
Marine Fisheries  Service (NMFS).  A joint  enforcement agreement                                                               
protects fisheries  primarily in areas of  joint jurisdiction and                                                               
funds public  safety technicians.  AWT this  year wants  to focus                                                               
more on wild  fish stock protection as opposed  to hatchery fish.                                                               
For  example, less  focus on  Ship Creek  hatchery fish  and more                                                               
focus on the  protection of wild streams. There's  an increase in                                                               
the computer  forensics component of wildlife  investigations. As                                                               
wildlife violators  use more technology, more  of that technology                                                               
can be used as evidence of the violation.                                                                                       
2:25:57 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON compared the 119,000  AST calls for service and the                                                               
58,000   AWT  resource-user   contacts  and   assumed  that   the                                                               
difference is  that the  state troopers  are reacting  to reports                                                               
while the wildlife  troopers may, for example,  be contacting 500                                                               
people on the Kenai River in the course of a day.                                                                               
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS  replied  all AWT  contacts,  whether  they                                                               
generate a case or not, are tabulated as a contact.                                                                             
CHAIR  FRENCH  suggested  he  skip ahead  to  page  7,  Statewide                                                               
COMMISSIONER   MASTERS  described   the  Division   of  Statewide                                                               
Services  as the  backbone  of the  department.  It provides  the                                                               
network for information, data storage,  and implementation of new                                                               
technologies that  affect trooper  efficiency. The  Alaska Public                                                               
Safety Information Network (APSIN)  re-design is almost complete.                                                               
Mr.  Schade  the director  of  statewide  services could  provide                                                               
further information.                                                                                                            
CHAIR  FRENCH said  he's interested  in  knowing if  this is  the                                                               
final year in which an  appropriation is being sought to complete                                                               
the work to re-design APSIN and if the funding is enough.                                                                       
MR.  SPENCER relayed  that the  capital budget  has a  $2 million                                                               
final  funding general  fund request  for the  project, which  is                                                               
sufficient to finish the design.                                                                                                
2:29:29 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MASTERS  said the Division of  Statewide Services is                                                               
continuing to phase  in mobile data terminals in  vehicles and to                                                               
hand carry on rural service  calls. Also they are continuing with                                                               
in-car video (iCOP)  and the records management system  to tie in                                                               
to the  information sharing  system known  as ALEISS  [Alaska Law                                                               
Enforcement  Information  Sharing  System].  There  is  a  budget                                                               
request item for that, he said.                                                                                                 
CHAIR FRENCH said  he received an overview of the  history of the                                                               
project in Anchorage  before the session started. He  was told of                                                               
the plan to  try and replace federal funds with  state funds this                                                               
year to keep the project going.                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER MASTERS said they've  also applied for other federal                                                               
funding  grants. It's  an important  program that  DPS relies  on                                                               
CHAIR  FRENCH emphasized  the need  to have  people talk  to each                                                               
other  through computer  networks.  Returning  to the  discussion                                                               
about APSIN,  he referenced  a recent case  in Anchorage  where a                                                               
man was arrested and charged with  sex assault in what turned out                                                               
to be an  unquestionably false charge. He said he  wants to start                                                               
a dialog  about what you  do about  that innocent person  who now                                                               
has  an  arrest  record  for sex  assault.  He  understands  that                                                               
records are not  expunged and wonders how you make  it right with                                                               
that person.  He asked if  some states have methods  of expunging                                                               
records, if Alaska has ever done so.                                                                                            
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS explained  that  there is  a mechanism  for                                                               
people  to have  their  records sealed  in  APSIN under  specific                                                               
circumstances so that  their name would not come up  on a records                                                               
check. One of  those circumstances is where  the allegations were                                                               
patently  false. If  the person  is unquestionably  innocent, the                                                               
record  is removed  from APSIN.  However, DPS  does not  have the                                                               
authority to remove  those records from other  systems. The court                                                               
system or  APD , for  example, may still  have the name  in their                                                               
records system.                                                                                                                 
2:34:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  asked if his authority  to remove a name  is placed                                                               
in regulation or statute.                                                                                                       
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS  replied it's  in  statute.  He offered  to                                                               
provide  specifics and  added  that  DPS did  send  a packet  [to                                                               
expunge] through in the case he cited.                                                                                          
CHAIR FRENCH said  he's happy to hear that, and  if someone would                                                               
point him to the specific statute he'd like to take a look.                                                                     
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS   continued.  The  noncompliance   rate  of                                                               
registered  sex offenders  is about  5 percent.  There are  2,458                                                               
registered sex offenders and  7,802 concealed handgun permittees.                                                               
The  Automated Fingerprint  Identification System  processed over                                                               
60,000 fingerprint  cards last year;  26,000 were  for criminals.                                                               
The remainder  are applicant cards for  background investigations                                                               
for things like teachers, bus drivers and security guards.                                                                      
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  noted that some people  are concerned about                                                               
creating databases  of personal  biometric information  and asked                                                               
what happens to the fingerprints of non-criminals.                                                                              
COMMISSIONER MASTERS  said he would have  Director Schade provide                                                               
an  answer  as  to  what   happens  after  the  record  check  is                                                               
CHAIR FRENCH told him to direct the information to his office.                                                                  
COMMISSIONER MASTERS said a significant  challenge in the area of                                                               
information  technology is  data  storage capacity,  particularly                                                               
for digital video  and photography. That issue  will be reflected                                                               
in the DPS capital budget request.                                                                                              
2:37:31 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MASTERS  highlighted the new Office  of Professional                                                               
Standards  under the  commissioner's  office that  will focus  on                                                               
administrative investigations as well  as tracking and monitoring                                                               
complaints from all  sources. Also DPS is looking  at software to                                                               
track trends,  identify training  issues and to  use as  an early                                                               
warning tool to identify potential problem employees.                                                                           
CHAIR FRENCH suggested they meet and  talk about getting SB 19 to                                                               
mesh with the new office.                                                                                                       
COMMISSIONER MASTERS agreed.                                                                                                    
The  Alaska Police  Standards  Council  (APSC) was  legislatively                                                               
expanded last  year to include  two line officers. APSC  also has                                                               
accepted  VPSO training  toward basic  police certification.  The                                                               
Alaska   Fire  Standards   Council  is   offering  training   and                                                               
certification to  6,100 career  firefighters and  volunteers. The                                                               
Council on Domestic Violence and  Sexual Assault (CDVSA) provided                                                               
funding  to   24  victim  service  programs   across  the  state,                                                               
servicing over  8,000 victims. There's  more detail in  the CDVSA                                                               
Strategic  Plan  handout.  77  domestic  violence/sexual  assault                                                               
training sessions were conducted  in partnership with DCVSA. Many                                                               
were  conducted  out of  Colonel  Holloways  AST office  for  law                                                               
enforcement advocates, prosecutors and first responders.                                                                        
The Alcohol Beverage  Control (ABC) Board has a  new director and                                                               
the investigative position has been changed to full-time.                                                                       
SENATOR ELTON asked if the  ABC Board also has contract employees                                                               
who do investigations.                                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER MASTERS  said no,  but some people  who are  not DPS                                                               
employees are used undercover to do sting operations.                                                                           
In  2008 4,500  cases were  submitted to  the crime  lab, and  78                                                               
percent were turned  around within 30 days. Currently  there is a                                                               
case backlog,  but over the last  year it's been reduced  by more                                                               
than 24 percent. In large part  that's because the lab has filled                                                               
all its vacant positions.                                                                                                       
CHAIR  FRENCH  asked  if  forensic data  is  being  sent  Outside                                                               
because the Alaska crime lab is congested.                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS  replied  DPS   has  an  agreement  with  a                                                               
Washington state lab  to do toxicology and  blood screening. It's                                                               
about 300 cases a year.                                                                                                         
CHAIR FRENCH mentioned  an email and asked if  the Washington lab                                                               
analyzes blood samples from accidents or DWIs.                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS deferred  to the  lab director;  he doesn't                                                               
have the specific answer.                                                                                                       
CHAIR FRENCH  said it's more a  curiosity and he learned  what he                                                               
needs to know,  which is that the email is  true. He assumes that                                                               
it's just a function of the lab being overwhelmed with work.                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MASTERS replied  it all comes down  to capability if                                                               
you don't have the space or location.                                                                                           
The CODIS  (Combined DNA Index  System) sample backlog  was 8,000                                                               
several months ago and now  it's 6,000. Because the lab positions                                                               
have been  filled, the  expectation is that  the backlog  will be                                                               
eliminated by July of this year.                                                                                                
2:44:58 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  noted that some  informed observers have  said that                                                               
the new  crime lab  is too  large to be  achievable. He  asked if                                                               
there is any thought about scaling back from $100 million.                                                                      
COMMISSIONER MASTERS  said there  is an ongoing  validation study                                                               
to answer that  sort of question. He conceded that  some call the                                                               
current plan the Taj Mahal of  labs while others say that it will                                                               
be at  capacity in a  few years.  The opinions range  widely. The                                                               
reality  is that  there  is need  for  a new  lab,  but in  these                                                               
economic  times  it might  not  need  to  be  quite so  big.  The                                                               
validation study will  look at the assumptions that  were made on                                                               
need and if those are correct it  will look to see if the size of                                                               
the lab  is also  correct. It  makes sense to  build out  for the                                                               
future,  but the  size  must  be correct.  We're  waiting on  the                                                               
review, he said.                                                                                                                
2:47:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH asked when he expects the study to be finished.                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MASTERS replied  it was supposed to be  ready by the                                                               
end  of  January, but  they're  still  waiting on  the  executive                                                               
summary of the review. That could be finished this week or next.                                                                
An emerging trend is the  advancements in DNA testing. "Low-copy"                                                               
and mitochondrial  DNA testing are  new and much  more effective,                                                               
but  the existing  lab doesn't  have the  space to  support these                                                               
procedures. DNA  testing is  also used  more frequently  to solve                                                               
cold cases and  post conviction. Future DNA  testing is discussed                                                               
in many regards including property crimes.                                                                                      
CHAIR FRENCH  expressed interest  in the  outcome of  the Osborne                                                               
case with  respect to new  requirements for holding  evidence for                                                               
potential retesting.                                                                                                            
COMMISSIONER MASTERS highlighted the two  pages of data on sexual                                                               
assault and sexual  abuse of a minor cases  that DPS investigated                                                               
between 2000 and 2008 that's  broken out by census areas. Overall                                                               
there is a decrease over the years.                                                                                             
2:50:47 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON noted  the imbalance in the  numbers for Anchorage,                                                               
Fairbanks  North Star  and  Juneau in  particular,  and asked  if                                                               
troopers  are  investigating cases  in  Fairbanks  that are  also                                                               
being investigated by a municipal police department.                                                                            
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS explained  that  the  numbers only  include                                                               
reports and investigations within AST's jurisdiction.                                                                           
SENATOR ELTON observed that the  Fairbanks North Star census area                                                               
isn't the  borough so the numbers  are driven by things  that are                                                               
happening outside the borough.                                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS  said  that's correct;  the  data  reflects                                                               
cases that are within the AST jurisdiction and responsibility.                                                                  
CHAIR  FRENCH  asked  where he  could  get  aggregated  statewide                                                               
numbers that include all municipal and DPS investigations.                                                                      
COMMISSIONER MASTERS  replied the FBI Uniform  Crime Report (UCR)                                                               
statistics is  one area, but that  information might be up  to 18                                                               
months old.  DPS prefers  to use  more current  numbers to  get a                                                               
better picture of what's happening today.                                                                                       
CHAIR  FRENCH recapped  that APD  reports crimes  to the  FBI and                                                               
that data sits  for 18 months before the public  or policy makers                                                               
can look at them.                                                                                                               
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS said  he isn't  sure  if the  2007 FBI  UCR                                                               
statistics  are  available but  he  knows  that 2008  data  isn't                                                               
COLONEL HOLLOWAY  confirmed that  the UCR statistics  are delayed                                                               
because  it takes  time to  report  and compile  the data.  Small                                                               
agencies in particular take a lot of time to report.                                                                            
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS  cautioned that  the  numbers  on the  data                                                               
sheets are  only for the  AST. The numbers show  what's happening                                                               
in the  jurisdictional areas in  the cases AST  is investigating,                                                               
but it  doesn't show trends  for the Anchorage  Police Department                                                               
(APD), for example. APD may  be experiencing an increase in cases                                                               
while AST is seeing a decrease.                                                                                                 
CHAIR FRENCH  observed that DPS also  reports to the FBI  so once                                                               
all the  reports are compiled,  it gives an  integrated statewide                                                               
COLONEL HOLLOWAY  highlighted the difference  in the way  the FBI                                                               
classifies the  information. The  UCR counts  forcible rape  of a                                                               
woman in  the statistics  but there is  no parallel  tracking for                                                               
many of the other sexual assault charges that AST investigates.                                                                 
CHAIR FRENCH said he appreciates the highlight.                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER   MASTERS  noted   that   9  of   the  13   homicide                                                               
investigations  last  year  were domestic  violence  related.  In                                                               
another coordination effort,  investigators are sometimes located                                                               
in child  advocacy centers (CAC),  which makes it  more effective                                                               
for prosecutions and  evidence gathering and it's  much easier on                                                               
CHAIR  FRENCH  asked  if  there's  a new  CAC  in  Fairbanks;  he                                                               
attended the opening of the new Anchorage CAC about a year ago.                                                                 
COLONEL   HOLLOWAY   explained   that   AST   began   co-locating                                                               
investigators in the Fairbanks CAC in the middle of last year.                                                                  
2:56:50 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS   described  the   successful  relationship                                                               
between DPS and UAA, utilizing  the UAA Justice Center to analyze                                                               
crime trends.  One study  looked at  all 2003-2004  trooper cases                                                               
for  domestic   violence/sexual  assault.  Now   discussions  are                                                               
underway  to expand  to  a  running real-time  study  to look  at                                                               
emerging trends so that the information can be used immediately.                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH referenced the final  bullet point and asked what he                                                               
hopes  will  come of  the  UAA  Justice  Center Study  on  sexual                                                               
assault and sexual abuse of a minor cases.                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS replied  they'll  be able  to  see who  the                                                               
victims   are  by   cohort   groups;  they   can   see  who   the                                                               
suspects/assailants  are  by  group;  they   can  see  where  the                                                               
investigations and  prosecutions may  be breaking down;  they can                                                               
see the  number that  are accepted for  prosecution and  how many                                                               
continue on  to prosecution and conviction.  The information will                                                               
be used to make improvements in the entire system.                                                                              
CHAIR FRENCH asked who at UAA is heading the study.                                                                             
COMMISSIONER MASTERS replied if they're  able to pull it together                                                               
the participants will  include AST, DPS, CDVSA,  and probably Dr.                                                               
Rosay and Dr. Wood from the UAA Justice Center.                                                                                 
CHAIR FRENCH asked if it's still on the drawing board.                                                                          
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS  said  yes; they're  putting  the  building                                                               
blocks together and exploring funding avenues.                                                                                  
CHAIR FRENCH asked if it's in this year's budget request.                                                                       
COMMISSIONER MASTERS replied it's not that far along.                                                                           
SENATOR  ELTON asked  what overhead  the  university charges  for                                                               
this kind of study; he's heard it's about 40 percent.                                                                           
MR. SPENCER replied he doesn't know.                                                                                            
3:00:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  thanked the participants  and adjourned  the Senate                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee meeting.                                                                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects