Asheville Police Department Chief William Anderson at this morning’s news briefing. Photo by Max Cooper.
The situation of the Asheville Police Department evidence room has improved, with a new manager and better systems, Chief William Anderson told media today. However, while he says he’s aware of how the situation occurred and who’s responsible Anderson refused to divulge more information.
Last year, investigation into missing guns, drugs, and money caused a major scandal, with then-APD Chief Bill Hogan retiring and the State Bureau of Investigation closing the evidence room. An independent audit revealed a room in deep disarray, and a coalition of local media, including Xpress sued unsuccessfully for the audit, which District Attorney Ron Moore has refused to reveal.
The APD has hired Timothy Scapin, formerly of the Pinellas County, Fla. Sheriff’s Office, to manage the evidence room. Scapin, selected from over 100 applicants, was the first person in Florida certified as a property and evidence room specialist by the International Association for Property and Evidence. The city of Asheville will pay him $50,502 a year.
The city has also improved its system, with several random inspections showing good results. Despite looking like “organized chaos,” in his words, APD officers were able to efficiently find items in the room. Anderson added that the city is looking for an offsite storage space to help with the situation.
“We feel this will help us, in the long run, deal with some of the space issues we were having,” Anderson said. “The new property room is much better organized.”
He added it will take about two to three years to get the evidence room to a standard he’s happy with, and that he doesn’t know if he will request more funding to better handle the evidence room situation. Mike Wright, who conducted the audit, told Council that 8-12 personnel— four to six each for the old and new evidence rooms— were needed to prevent future problems. But Anderson indicated that he thinks those numbers are too high, and that the APD can adequately manage the situation with less.
Without jeopardizing the criminal investigation, Anderson said he could tell the public that “not only do we know what happened, we know how it happened and who was responsible. We’re just waiting for the District Attorney’s Office and the SBI to do what they do.”
When asked, Anderson refused to say much more, or specify when problems with the evidence room began.
After more information about the audit was revealed to Asheville City Council last August, Anderson said he would ask Moore for a copy of the audit to better understand what improvements were required. But he still hasn’t seen a copy; his information comes from briefings by Moore and the SBI.
As for why, “you’ll have to ask the DA.”