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'Andrew's Law' receives final OK from ND Legislature

BISMARCK — A bill adding protections for confidential informants used by law enforcement received final approval in the North Dakota Legislature on Tuesday, April 18.

The Senate voted 44-1 to approve House Bill 1221, known as "Andrew's Law," sending the proposed legislation to Gov. Doug Burgum for a signature.

The bill is named after Andrew Sadek, a North Dakota State College of Science student who was found dead after working undercover for police to receive a reduced sentence on a drug charge. Autopsy results were inconclusive, but Sadek's parents argue their son was murdered because of his work as a confidential informant.

Tammy Sadek, Andrew's mother, expressed disappointment after a different version of the bill passed the Senate last month. But family members are pleased that many of the protections they advocated for are now included in the final version of the bill, said family attorney Tim O'Keeffe.

"We were pretty happy with it overall. It was a good first step," O'Keeffe said.

The bill requires training for law enforcement before using confidential informants and mandates that the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board write rules that provide "reasonable protective measures" for confidential informants. It also requires a written agreement with informants, which makes it clear that they can speak with an attorney or stop working as an informant at any time.

The bill prohibits juveniles under age 15 from being confidential informants and has limitations for juveniles 15 and older. It also prohibits campus police from using confidential informants.

In addition, the legislation requires the attorney general to authorize an independent investigation if a confidential informant dies.

Sen. Kelly Armstrong, R-Dickinson, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said language in an earlier version of the bill would have had some unintended consequences for law enforcement, but the revised version adds wording to eliminate that concern.

Armstrong said the bill will create uniformity for how confidential informants are used across the state while allowing law enforcement to continue using a tool that helps them remove large quantities of drugs from the streets.

"This reform is needed, but it's also important to recognize that law enforcement has a tough job to do," Armstrong said.