Asheville asks Buncombe DA to share police evidence-room recommendations

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Mike Wright, manager of Blueline Systems & Services, presents Asheville City Council with details on what his company audited at the Asheville Police Department’s old evidence room. After the presentation on July 24, Council instructed City Attorney Bob Oast to request the firm’s recommended fixes from Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore. Katie Bailey/Carolina Public Press

Following up on instructions issued by Asheville City Council, City Attorney Bob Oast has requested that Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore share suggestions for running the Police Department’s evidence room.

The written request, however, stopped short of explicitly asking that Moore make public portions of a disputed evidence-room audit.

At its July 24 meeting, Council instructed Oast make the inquiry following a presentation by Mike Wright, manager of Blueline Systems & Services, the company hired by the city to conduct the audit. Wright described a room and filing system in deep disarray, with thousands of items uncounted for and difficult to locate, and listed several recommendations for improving the management of evidence at the department.

A portion of the audit contains Bluelines’ recommendations, Wright noted. Moore has refused to release the audit to the public, and the document is now the subject of a public-records lawsuit filed by Carolina Public Press and four other local-media outlets.

Asheville Police Chief William Anderson, who also spoke at the meeting, said that he has not seen the audit but would like to.

“In order for us to move forward … we really need to see the audit that’s in the custody of the district attorney,” Anderson told Asheville City Council. “We need to look at all the recommendations that are in that audit, and we need to look at the findings that Blueline identified, because that basically is going to be the roadmap to take us where we need to go.”

Oast’s letter to Moore is dated July 26 and marked “via hand-delivery.” The letter, which can be read in its entirety below, noted Wright’s presentation to council and requested that Moore share recommendations.

“Mr. Wright said that his audit report … contains some recommendations and suggestions for how the evidence room operation may be better managed in the future, and suggested that the Police Department work with the District Attorney’s office to formulate and implement appropriate policies and procedures for the operation of the evidence room,” Oast wrote.

“At your convenience, we would appreciate receiving any suggestions or direction regarding the management of the evidence room, so that we can better assist your office in the administration of the criminal justice system in Buncombe County.”

Moore was not immediately available for comment on Monday.


Special Report

Go here for more into Carolina Public Press’ investigation into the Asheville Police Department’s evidence room.

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About the Author

Jon Elliston

Jon Elliston is the Investigations and Open Government Editor at Carolina Public Press. Contact him at jelliston@carolinapublicpress.org.

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