Bill clarifies victims' advocate's authority

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- Several lawmakers want to make clear that a state victims' rights advocate can get involved in municipal as well as state cases.

House Bill 68, which was introduced Wednesday, stems from the state Office of Victims' Rights investigation into the slow response by Anchorage emergency workers to the August shootings of Glenn and Patti Godfrey.

Glenn Godfrey, a retired public safety commissioner, was killed by his former girlfriend, Karen Brand, who also killed herself and shot Godfrey's wife, Patti.

Because of problems in the Anchorage police dispatch system, it took emergency workers 48 minutes to reach Patti Godfrey, who lay bleeding in her Eagle River home.

The Office of Victims' Rights investigated the case and issued a report finding Patti Godfrey's right to emergency help had been violated and urged changes in the Anchorage dispatch system.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Ralph Samuels, R-Anchorage, said Anchorage Mayor George Wuerch requested the legislation.

Current law does not make it clear whether the Office of Victims' Rights has authority to investigate municipalities' responses to crime, Samuels said.

When the office issued its critical report on the Godfrey case in November, Anchorage municipal attorney Bill Greene questioned whether the victims' rights office had jurisdiction in the case.

Jennifer Payne, a spokeswoman for Wuerch, said the mayor supports the legislation because he wants to make clear the city does not want to thwart the work of the victims' rights office.

''The mayor wanted to make sure that was cleared up, so there was no misunderstanding,'' Payne said.

Seven representatives have signed on as co-sponsors to the bill. A similar bill was introduced Wednesday in the Senate by Sen. Lyda Green, R-Wasilla. It is Senate Bill 42.

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