Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

02/08/2018 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 164 Out of Committee
Moved SB 148 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         SB 148-BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR POLICE & TRAINING                                                                     
4:14:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER called the committee  back to order. He announced the                                                               
consideration of Senate Bill 148 (SB 148).                                                                                      
4:15:32 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT  GRIFFITHS, Executive  Director,  Alaska Police  Standards                                                               
Council,  Alaska Department  of  Public  Safety, Juneau,  Alaska,                                                               
provided  the  following  background information  on  the  Alaska                                                               
Police Standards Council (APSC):                                                                                                
     In 1972  the Legislature  created the  Police Standards                                                                    
     Council to  professionalize law enforcement  in Alaska.                                                                    
     We  were given  the  power and  authority to  establish                                                                    
     regulations   that   deal    with   hiring,   training,                                                                    
     certification,  and in  some  cases decertification  of                                                                    
     officers across  the state.  A few  years later  we had                                                                    
     added  to   our  repertoire:   corrections,  probation,                                                                    
     parole,  and what  are known  as municipal  corrections                                                                    
     officers; so,  we certify all  of those. We  have about                                                                    
     2500  different  certified  officers in  the  state  of                                                                    
     Alaska that we  track and try to train as  best we can,                                                                    
     and   we   are   responsible  for   maintaining   their                                                                    
He said  the intent of SB  148 is to  give APSC a tool  to assist                                                               
rural public safety agencies in hiring and retaining officers.                                                                  
He remarked that most people  assume that every police officer in                                                               
Alaska has passed a  fingerprint-based background check; however,                                                               
that is  not always the  case. He  explained that while  APSC has                                                               
established regulations that mandate  a police officer have their                                                               
fingerprints taken  and run through the  national computer system                                                               
to  verify identity  and past  criminal history,  those are  only                                                               
done by  regulation and  in some cases  rural communities  do not                                                               
have the necessary infrastructure or capabilities to do that.                                                                   
He disclosed that by statute,  rural communities are not required                                                               
to run  a fingerprint-based background check;  however, they must                                                               
comply  with   both  federal  and  state   regulations  regarding                                                               
information access, protection, and security.  He added that if a                                                               
rural community was  to institute any kind  of electronic inquiry                                                               
system, they  would have to  have secure data  lines, specialized                                                               
routing equipment  and terminals,  and physical security  for the                                                               
equipment. He said an electronic  inquiry system is expensive and                                                               
most of the state's rural communities cannot accommodate that.                                                                  
4:18:16 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GRIFFITHS explained that SB  148 fixes a recent problem where                                                               
federal  regulation  that  governs  fingerprints  and  background                                                               
checks  regard  the  police   officer's  standards  and  training                                                               
programs across  the country of  which most states,  like Alaska,                                                               
as "post agencies"  that are regarded as a  "licensing agency" as                                                               
opposed to  a "criminal  justice agency."  He explained  that for                                                               
access to  be granted under  federal law to the  criminal justice                                                               
system data which  is where the fingerprint  data resides, Alaska                                                               
must  have  statutory authority  for  access.  He specified  that                                                               
Alaska's  current authority  exists  only in  regulation, not  in                                                               
statute;  as  a  result,  SB  148  was  drafted  to  address  the                                                               
statutory   requirement.  He   summarized  that   Alaska's  rural                                                               
communities will be assisted by  acceptance of fingerprints where                                                               
they were  taken by someone  in the community, state  trooper, or                                                               
village public safety officer.                                                                                                  
4:20:31 PM                                                                                                                    
He provided a sectional analysis as follows:                                                                                    
   • Summary:                                                                                                               
     This  bill  adds   to  the  power  of  APSC   to  request  a                                                               
     fingerprint  based national  criminal history  records check                                                               
     from the Federal Bureau of  Investigations (FBI) through the                                                               
     Alaska Department  Public Safety  (DPS) for admittance  to a                                                               
     basic police training program or  for employment as a police                                                               
     officer, if  the prospective employer  does not  have access                                                               
     to a criminal justice information system (CJIS).                                                                           
   • Section 1:                                                                                                             
     Amends  AS  12.62.400   (National  Criminal  History  record                                                               
     checks  for  employment,  licensing, and  other  noncriminal                                                               
     justice  purposes) to  include  the new  subsection (a)  (1)                                                               
     (19) allowing  for a fingerprint  based records check  to be                                                               
     submitted  to  the FBI  for  admittance  to a  basic  police                                                               
     training   program  under   AS   18.65.230  (APSC   training                                                               
     programs)  or  for  employment as  a  police  officer  under                                                               
     18.65.240  (APSC  standards  for  appointment  as  a  police                                                               
     officer), if  the prospective employer does  not have access                                                               
     to CJIS.                                                                                                                   
   • Section 2:                                                                                                             
     Amends AS 18.65.220 (Powers of  the APSC) to include the new                                                               
     subsection (8) which requires a  state and national criminal                                                               
     history  check  for  an  applicant  to  a  training  program                                                               
     established  in  AS  18.65.230  and   for  a  person  to  be                                                               
     appointed as  a police  officer under  AS 18.65.240  if that                                                               
     person's prospective  employer does not have  access to CJIS                                                               
     to conduct their own criminal history check.                                                                               
   • Section 3:                                                                                                             
     Amends  AS 18.65.230  (APSC training  programs) by  adding a                                                               
     new  subsection   (b)  which   requires  an   applicant  for                                                               
     appointment  as a  police  officer or  for  admittance to  a                                                               
     training program  to submit  fingerprints and  a fee  to the                                                               
     APSC unless the applicant's employer has done this.                                                                        
   • Section 4:                                                                                                             
     Amends  AS 18.65.240  (APSC standards)  to  reflect the  new                                                               
     subsection (d), added below in Section 5.                                                                                  
   • Section 5:                                                                                                             
     Amends  AS   18.65.240  (APSC  standards)   to  add   a  new                                                               
     subsection  (d)   which  limits  the  issuing   of  an  APSC                                                               
     certificate  unless  the  council determines  the  applicant                                                               
     will undergo  a national criminal history  record check pre-                                                               
     employment; and  requiring a prospective employer  to submit                                                               
     an applicant's  fingerprints to  the council  for submission                                                               
     to the  FBI if the  prospective employer does not  have CJIS                                                               
     access. The  criminal history records  check is  required to                                                               
     assure applicants meet minimum  standards established by the                                                               
   • Section 6:                                                                                                             
     Amends   AS  18.65.290   (Definitions)  by   adding  a   new                                                               
     subsection (9) which clarifies that  the meaning of criminal                                                               
     justice  information  system  is  the meaning  given  in  AS                                                               
   • Section 7:                                                                                                             
     Specifies the  applicability of the  act applies  to persons                                                               
     that  apply  for admittance  to  a  police training  program                                                               
     under AS  18.65.230 or to  be appointed as a  police officer                                                               
     under AS  18.65.240 on or  after the effective date  of this                                                               
   • Section 8:                                                                                                             
     Includes a  reviser's instruction  to change  the catch-line                                                               
     of  AS  18.65.230  from  "Training  programs"  to  "Training                                                               
     programs; fingerprints.                                                                                                    
4:23:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER asked  who would be liable if something  happens in a                                                               
smaller  area that  has  not gone  through  the background  check                                                               
MR. GRIFFITHS  surmised that the  community where  the individual                                                               
is working would  assume most of the liability.  He admitted that                                                               
liability  would  be  decreased  if the  individuals  go  through                                                               
APSC's  background  check,  training program,  and  certification                                                               
CHAIR MEYER asked how large the  communities are and if they have                                                               
taxing capabilities for hiring.                                                                                                 
MR.   GRIFFITHS   answered   that   the   communities   must   be                                                               
incorporated. He  added that the legislation  targets communities                                                               
under  1,000 in  population that  are  off the  road system.  The                                                               
targeted communities  are primarily in the  Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta                                                               
and Northwest Arctic Borough areas.                                                                                             
CHAIR MEYER  asked if APSC  would be able  to get to  the smaller                                                               
communities to do fingerprint checks.                                                                                           
MR.  GRIFFITHS replied  that APSC  would be  able to  preform the                                                               
fingerprint checks through its partnership with DPS.                                                                            
4:25:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MEYER asked  if the  officers in  the smaller  communities                                                               
carry weapons.                                                                                                                  
MR.  GRIFFITHS  answered  that  some of  the  officers  do  carry                                                               
weapons. He  assumed that  the officers  that carry  weapons have                                                               
been  through   the  APSC/DPS  training  programs   and  met  the                                                               
requirements;  however, their  officers are  not prohibited  from                                                               
carrying a firearm.  The option is up to the  community and their                                                               
community standards.                                                                                                            
CHAIR  MEYER  said  the  concern  is that  some  of  the  smaller                                                               
communities  are  hiring  individuals  that may  or  may  not  be                                                               
qualified to be  law enforcement and may or may  not be enforcing                                                               
the  state's  laws. He  asked  if  the  officers in  the  smaller                                                               
communities  are  on  the  Alaska  Public  Employees'  Retirement                                                               
System (PERS).                                                                                                                  
MR. GRIFFITHS answered  that he did not know but  would follow up                                                               
with the information.                                                                                                           
CHAIR MEYER remarked  that there should be some way  to make sure                                                               
that the individuals are qualified.                                                                                             
4:26:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER opened public testimony.                                                                                            
4:26:55 PM                                                                                                                    
KATHIE  WASSERMAN, Executive  Director, Alaska  Municipal League,                                                               
Juneau, Alaska, testified in support  of SB 148. She detailed the                                                               
public  safety challenges  faced by  smaller municipalities.  She                                                               
remarked that SB  148 is a bill  that makes it easier  to get the                                                               
smaller  municipalities that  do  have a  Village Police  Officer                                                               
(VPO) to do  what they need to do for  community safety and avoid                                                               
costly  lawsuits.   She  noted  that  the   background  check  is                                                               
typically something that the smaller  municipalities cannot do on                                                               
their own.  She noted that  enrollment into PERS  is inconsistent                                                               
within each community.                                                                                                          
CHAIR MEYER asked how smaller municipalities pay for their VPOs.                                                                
MS. WASSERMAN  replied that she  did not know. She  surmised that                                                               
communities with tribal presence may use tribal grants.                                                                         
CHAIR MEYER asked Mr. Griffiths  how VPOs differ from the Village                                                               
Public Safety Officers (VPSO).                                                                                                  
4:30:57 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GRIFFITHS  explained that the communities  benefiting from SB
148 are the communities with  VPOs. He detailed that APSC adopted                                                               
regulations describing  the different standards that  are applied                                                               
to police  officers, both  for training and  for hiring.  He said                                                               
APSC has recognized that there  is a vast disparity between rural                                                               
law enforcement and  urban law enforcement. He  described the two                                                               
police officer classifications as follows:                                                                                      
     APSC  created two  classifications  of police  officer,                                                                    
     they are still police  officers under the state statute                                                                    
     and under  the law,  but the requirements  are slightly                                                                    
     different  to accommodate  the  needs  and the  limited                                                                    
     resources  of  rural Alaska;  we  call  those folks  in                                                                    
     rural  Alaska  "Village  Police Officers,"  not  to  be                                                                    
     confused  with "Village  Public Safety  Officers" which                                                                    
     are  officers that  are not  employed by  the state  of                                                                    
     Alaska  or  by  the  local  community  but  instead  by                                                                    
     grantees through the Department of Public Safety.                                                                          
CHAIR MEYER asked who pays for VPOs and VPSOs.                                                                                  
MR.  GRIFFITHS   replied  that  VPOs   are  paid  by   the  local                                                               
communities and VPSOs  are paid through the  VPSO program through                                                               
DPS. The  VPSO program is  grant-funded by the state  to regional                                                               
corporations  or  in  one  case  the grantee  is  a  borough.  He                                                               
detailed that VPSOs are trained, certified and managed by DPS.                                                                  
CHAIR  MEYER  asked him  to  confirm  that  the VPSOs  are  state                                                               
MR. GRIFFITHS  clarified that  VPSOs are  funded by  state money,                                                               
but the individuals are not state employees.                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER  asked him to  confirm that VPSOs are  different from                                                               
MR. GRIFFITHS answered yes.                                                                                                     
4:33:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WILSON asked  if the bill is retroactive for  VPOs to get                                                               
their fingerprints and police training.                                                                                         
MR. GRIFFITHS replied as follows:                                                                                               
     I'm  not   sure  "retroactive"   would  be   the  right                                                                    
     terminology because  our regulations  currently require                                                                    
     this. If they are currently  serving in a community and                                                                    
     haven't  complied with  those  regulations  or if  this                                                                    
     statute were  to be  adopted with  a statute,  we would                                                                    
     still assist them in coming into compliance with both.                                                                     
SENATOR WILSON assumed that the  financial burden for fingerprint                                                               
submission  would be  up to  the communities  and asked  what the                                                               
cost is.                                                                                                                        
MR. GRIFFITHS replied that the  cost for a licensing, fingerprint                                                               
background check is $47.                                                                                                        
CHAIR MEYER asked if VPO turnover is high.                                                                                      
MR. GRIFFITHS  answered that turnover  for VPOs  is exceptionally                                                               
high. He opined that  part of the issue is that  VPOs do not have                                                               
an opportunity to enroll in PERS.                                                                                               
CHAIR MEYER  pointed out that  SB 148 has  a fiscal note  for DPS                                                               
with corrections forthcoming.                                                                                                   
4:36:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL moved to report SB 148, version: 30-GS2594\A                                                                    
from committee with individual recommendations and forthcoming                                                                  
updated fiscal notes.                                                                                                           
4:36:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER announced that there being no objection, the motion                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB164 Transmittal Letter.pdf SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 164
SB164 Ver A.PDF SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 164
SB164 DEC Fiscal Note.PDF SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 164
SB 148 Hearing Request-signed.pdf SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB0148A.PDF SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB 148 Sectional Analysis version A.pdf SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB148-DPS-APSC-01-18-18.pdf SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB148 Additional Information Letter 2.6.2018.pdf SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB164 and OSV Overview 02.08.2018.pdf SSTA 2/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 164