Last year, the Asheville Police Department’s evidence was found in serious disarray, with scores of missing drugs, guns and cash. Then-Police Chief Bill Hogan resigned; so did the evidence-room manager, William Lee Smith, “under investigative suspension.” City Council ordered an outside audit, which cost $175,000. Local media, including Xpress, sued for public release of the audit, which remains in the hands of Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore.
Today, Aug. 5, the Asheville Citizen-Times published an extensive report based on review of how a new evidence room is being handled:
Police commanders, since the problems came to light, have sealed the evidence room and opened another, putting more manpower on inspections.
The number of officers responsible for audits has more than tripled in some cases — increasing from two to seven, according to records obtained last week by the Citizen-Times through the state’s public records law.
Command officers also have produced detailed reports of the recent audits, documents that reached nearly 50 pages in some cases — up from two to three pages in previous years.
“Sure they are doing a better job,” said Joe Latta, executive director of the International Association for Property and Evidence. “Absolutely. Are they asking the right questions? We don’t know.”
Police now have four officers and a sergeant managing both evidence rooms, new Chief William Anderson said. …