On April 18, Asheville Police Department Chief Bill Hogan has announced his retirement, effective May 13. The step comes amid public criticism over his handling of an investigation into missing evidence and the settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit involving a still-employed APD officer.
“After 36 years in law enforcement, I am looking forward to retirement and a new chapter in my life. I strongly value public service, and I am grateful to have spent a career serving the law enforcement profession,” Hogan said in an official announcement from the city of Asheville. “It has been an honor to serve with the professional and dedicated men and women of the Asheville police department. I have the utmost confidence in the level of service they will continue to provide to the citizens of Asheville.”
The city’s announcement credits Hogan, who took the department’s top spot in 2004, with improving the professionalism of the department, as well as response time and equipment. The announcement notes that during his tenure “the city continued to enjoy lower crime rates than many cities of similar size.”
“We wish Bill well in his retirement and appreciate his service to the city of Asheville,” City Manager Gary Jackson says in the statement. “An announcement about an interim police chief appointment will be made by the end of the month. We will also develop a recruitment plan for a competitive search for a new police chief, including an opportunity for community input.”
However, Hogan has recently been under fire after the State Bureau of Investigation shut down the APD evidence room and began an investigation into missing evidence, including guns, drugs and money. District Attorney Ron Moore publicly criticized the APD leadership at last week’s City Council meeting, saying he was not adequately notified when a partial audit of the evidence room indicated missing items in early March. At that meeting, Hogan said the evidence room issues were due to “one individual who betrayed the trust.” Mayor Terry Bellamy promised that “changes should be made, and will be made,” though she didn’t specify what form those would take.
Due to the investigation, Moore has delayed cases involving APD evidence, and a full audit of the property room is currently under way.
Also last week, the city settled — to the tune of $52,100 — a sexual harassment lawsuit from former APD Office Cherie Byrd involving explicit and racially offensive text messages sent by her then-superior Sgt. Eric Lauffer. The lawsuit alleged that Hogan and city staff ignored Byrd’s complaints. While the APD demoted Lauffer, he remains employed by the department.
— David Forbes, senior news reporter