March 21, 2013 | Volume 43, No. 11

DA visit aims at training

Assistant District Attorney Amy Williams will travel to Haines March 27 to discuss training for the Haines Borough Police Department, Mayor Stephanie Scott said last week.

Williams said the exact nature of the training and information sessions has not yet been decided.

When asked whether her training or instruction would address driving under the influence arrests and the legalities surrounding breathalyzers and blood tests, Williams said “we haven’t decided yet.”

Williams said there were a number of cases settled over the past year involving the illegal collection of blood samples by Haines Borough police officers from individuals arrested for drunk driving. Many of the defendants ultimately had their charges reduced because of the blood samples’ inadmissibility in court.

When asked several months ago about the cases, Williams would not discuss them as several were still in the process of being settled. In an interview last week, Williams said she discovered the problem while talking with Sgt. Simon Ford during her preparation for a DUI case.

“He explained the situation to me and why they were doing it that way, and my response was, ‘Stop. It’s illegal. Don’t do that anymore,’” Williams said.

Williams said one criminal charge that could potentially apply to the officers involved in taking the illegal blood samples is interference with constitutional rights under color of law.

“Where a police officer is being investigated for a criminal charge, it is handled by the troopers or the Alaska Bureau of Investigations,” Williams said.