At its regular meeting on Tuesday, July 24, Asheville City Council is slated to hear its first public presentation on the findings of a Police Department evidence-room audit council members commissioned more than a year ago.
“At this point, the presentation is scheduled to be done in open session, and it will be given by a representative from the company that did the audit, Blueline Systems & Services,” Brian Postelle, a public-information staffer with the city, told Carolina Public Press today.
The audit of the evidence room’s holdings, or “forensic inventory,” as it is called in city documents, is the subject of a recent public-records lawsuit filed by Carolina Public Press and four other local-media outlets, including the Asheville Citizen-Times, Mountain Xpress, WCQS and WLOS.
The legal action, which was filed June 25 and is awaiting a hearing in Buncombe County Superior Court, seeks to compel the city of Asheville and the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office to release the audit.
Council appropriated $175,000 for the audit in April 2011, after it was discovered that an unknown number of evidentiary items, including drugs, weapons, cash and valuables, were missing from the room.
The audit was completed and delivered to the District Attorney’s Office in January 2012, but council members and city officials have not pressed to see a copy, and District Attorney Ron Moore has rebuffed requests to release the document.
Council discussed the audit at its last meeting, on June 26, when City Attorney Bob Oast briefed council members in closed session about the media lawsuit.
According to one city document, that closed session went on for a little more than half an hour — but the minutes of what was discussed remain sealed because of attorney-client privilege.