Today, an array of local media has united in a call for District Attorney Ron Moore to release the audit of missing guns, drugs and money from the Asheville Police Department evidence room. A joint statement declares that Moore’s actions in ignoring open records requests for months “are not in compliance with either state law or the practices of transparent government.”
Last year, when news emerged about more than 115 missing items from the evidence room, it became a major issue of public trust in local law enforcement. APD Chief Bill Hogan resigned, and every case involving APD evidence was halted. The city approved $175,000 for a full audit. This was completed in January, and the results were given to Moore.
Xpress made an open records request in January and, after receiving no response from Moore, again in March. Attorneys from the North Carolina Press Association have noted that according to state law, the audit should be a matter of public record. Also, according to the audit contract, Moore should have given the city of Asheville a copy of the audit when it was completed.
Last week, Xpress began approaching local media in an effort to unite behind a statement calling on Moore to release the audit. The effort has garnered support from many organizations, ranging from print to radio to online.
Xpress continues to talk with other local media as well, and hopes to add more to the declaration. The signatories have also committed to highlight the issue through their respective outlets.
We also invite citizens to sign a petition for Moore to release the audit.
The statement reads as follows:
Last year, news emerged that guns, drugs and money were missing from the Asheville Police Department’s evidence room. Asheville City Council allocated $175,000 in taxpayer money to fund an audit of the evidence room, to reveal how many items were missing. The issue became a major question of public confidence in local law enforcement.
That audit was completed in early January, and delivered to District Attorney Ron Moore, who has not made it public.
Moore has also not responded to repeated open records requests in the ensuing months, neither turning over the records nor citing a clear legal reason why they should not be released. In doing so, Moore has failed to comply with state law requiring a response to open records requests “as promptly as possible.”
Furthermore, according to attorneys from the North Carolina Press Association — longtime experts in open records law — the results of the audit should be public.
District Attorney Ron Moore’s actions are not in compliance with either state law or the practices of transparent government that the people of Buncombe County deserve from their elected officials, especially those charged with upholding the law.
As members of the local media who believe in a free press and open government, we call on Moore to turn over the results of the evidence room audit and help restore public trust.
Senior News Reporter, Mountain Xpress
Publisher, Mountain Xpress
Executive Director, Western North Carolina Public Radio, Inc./WCQS
News Director, WCQS
Executive Director, Carolina Public Press
News Director, Clear Channel Asheville
Host, the Pete Kaliner Show
Host, Local Edge Radio
Matt Mittan and Agnes Cheek
Hosts, Take a Stand with Matt and Agnes
President of the Board, Friends of Community Radio/Asheville FM
Editor, Tribune Papers