It can get hot under the spotlight, and for Asheville City Council’s major squeaky wheel, Carl Mumpower, that means reaction from more than just bummed out concert-goers and blogmeisters.
Yet another party got into the game when N.C. Rep. Charles Thomas chided Mumpower for forwarding an e-mail, sent to him by City Manager Gary Jackson, that details an Asheville Police Department prostitution sting operation and identifies the officers involved.
“Disclosing and publishing the names of undercover police officers for political gain is down right shameful and unethical,” Thomas’ e-mail says.
Mumpower responds that he intends to hold “our state legislators accountable for letting our court system reach its current level of dysfunction.”
According to the APD report, two officers conducted the sting, in which one officer “did an excellent job on picking up the girls and getting the solicitation charges,” resulting in several arrests. Jackson notes, however, that all suspects were released on a small bond or on their signatures and were “right back at it.”
Contacted by Xpress, Thomas said he continues to be baffled by Mumpower’s information release. “I saw no benefit in including their names,” Thomas said. “We need to be able to recruit and retain police officers as well as informants,” he said. “We undermine their efforts by needlessly disclosing their identities.”
Thomas, who is not accustomed to Mumpower’s practice of forwarding e-mails, said his comments were intended for Mumpower, not as a public statement. But he nonetheless maintained his position. “I was shocked,” he said.
According to state open-records law, any correspondance sent to or from a City Council member is a public document.
Mumpower’s and Thomas’ e-mail exchange is below.
— Brian Postelle, staff writer
From: Captain Sarah Benson
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2007 7:54 AM
To: William Hogan
Subject: FW: PROSTITUION AFTER ACTION
Capt. Sarah Benson
Patrol Division Commander
Integrity, Fairness, Respect, Professionalism
From: Tammy Bryson
Sent: Wednesday, April 04, 2007 4:47 PM
To: Lt. Chris Young; Sgt. Mike Yelton; Sgt. Eric Lauffer
Cc: Shaun Ward; Captain Sarah Benson
Subject: PROSTITUION AFTER ACTION
After receiving information of high volumes of prostitution calls in the area of S.French Broad and Coxe Avenue, I conducted a small operation with the assistance of Officer Shaun Ward. Officer Ward did an excellent job on picking up the girls and getting the solicitation charges. We were able to get several girls in a short amount of time. We started at 1100 but didn’t get out on the road until a little closer to twelve due to some vehicle problems.
In a message dated 4/5/2007 6:53:04 PM Eastern Daylight Time, GJackson@ashevillenc.gov writes:
Enforcement in this area is of interest to you I believe…six prostitutes arrested in the S. French Broad area.
Unfortunately, they are bonded out on a small bond or released on their signature and they are right back at it.
Date: April 5, 2007 7:35:25 PM EDT
To: GJackson@ashevillenc.gov, Newmanasheville@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, MayorBellamy@ashevillenc.gov, email@example.com
Cc: WHogan@ashevillenc.gov, PoliceCommandStaff@ashevillenc.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Re: FW: PROSTITUION AFTER ACTION
Thanks you for this. With your permission I am going to share this information with the Drug Commission, our Legislative Delegation, and others. It offers an excellent window into the limitations of our current judicial system’s capacity to support enforcement of our laws – with a resulting morale impact on officers involved.
Prostitution offers a host of connections to drug traffic, crime, and other social harms that are anything but victimless or innocent.
Appreciation is due for this information and the enforcement efforts behind it.
Asheville City Council
Sent: Fri, 6 Apr 2007 7:33 PM
Subject: RE: [asheville-politics] RE: FW: PROSTITUION AFTER ACTION
Your e-mail of yesterday is traveling the internet.
Disclosing and publishing the names of undercover police officers for political gain is down right shameful and unethical. You had the opportunity to remove and/or exclude their name(s) from your forwarded e-mail, yet you chose not to. If it is not a felony already, I will file legislation to make it so.
Charles C. Thomas
North Carolina House of Representatives
Date: April 6, 2007 8:27:20 PM EDT
Subject: Re: [asheville-politics] RE: FW: PROSTITUION AFTER ACTION
Dear Representative Thomas:
An understanding that this was a public document and that the names were not confidential may ease your assertions.
I will share my interest in holding our state legislators accountable for letting our court system reach its current level of dysfunction. There in lies the the more authentic point of shame and ethical failure.
Asheville City Council
When were good and noble people ever in a majority?