by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
Finally! What the local papers have been awaiting! The release of the audit of the Asheville Police Department’s evidence room. Now, reporters get to sift through fifteen volumes of findings. I have better things to do.
Just from what little has been published, it appears that accounts of guns, drugs, and money walking were greatly exaggerated; with recoveries for various categories ranging from 70-100%. The problems seem to be more with errors in recordkeeping. Long-standing DA Ron Moore, who recently lost his bid for re-election on allegations that he let evidence for serious cases disappear, is now able to talk about the findings, and he said that is not so.
In the end, I feel like I’m being fed a story. I could ask questions, but I don’t expect an honest answer. I remember being in the evidence room before all this went down. We had to wait outside a long time, but once inside, the place was not messy, just creepy and nauseating. Lee Smith bragged about how he was in charge of everything, and he trusted nobody to help because if something went wrong, he wanted it to be his fault. A couple years later, the city hired a helper for him.
That doesn’t make it into the press, but it still nags at me. I mean, I see this expectation that you can hire somebody who averaged scores of 75-80% on school tests, throw them into a new bureaucracy, and expect them to do everything perfectly. Now, it could be that the new girl was hired to help with internal controls, a workload too heavy for one man to handle, or maybe she was the mole! For all I know, it is as likely that the good guys thought Smith was too slack as that the bad guys thought he was too tight. If we don’t think criminals concern themselves with evidence, we deceive ourselves. Why, some of them could be rich and tricky. Whatever the level of deception, rest assured I lag. All I think I know is the evidence room was used, for better or worse, to get former Chief Bill Hogan and outgoing DA Moore out of the picture.
What we are not talking about is the evidence room mess in Buncombe County back in 2007. Here’s a good summary. I just hope the conversion of Buncombe County law enforcement evidence rooms into mismanaged and lossy pigsties in recent years is purely coincidental with no public threat behind the scenes.