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From under a lingering cloud of controversy, the Asheville Police Department has released its latest evidence room audits. The audits, obtained by Carolina Public Press through a public records request, include three small quarterly inspections conducted this year and one sizable annual one conducted in May.

The big one, of more than 1,000 sensitive items, identified 11 packages of drug evidence that are missing from the APD’s old evidence room, which was sealed in April 2011 at the beginning of the department’s evidence room scandal. And one of the smaller audits, conducted last month, found that numerous items were not being stored in accordance with the department’s new standards.

No items from the department’s new evidence room, which was opened when the old one was sealed, were found to be missing, according to the documents.

Earlier this year, the APD’s longtime former evidence manager, William Lee Smith, agreed to plea guilty to federal charges of stealing between $10,000 and $30,000 worth of drug evidence before his resignation in early 2011. Smith has not yet been sentenced.

The four new audits, prefaced by summaries of their findings, can be read below. Click here to read Carolina Public Press’s coverage of the APD’s evidence scandal.

Quarterly audit: February 2013

A random sample of 150 items, half of which were “sensitive” items such as drugs, guns, jewelry and money, indicated that none of those items was missing.

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Feb 19, 2013 APD evidence audit (PDF)
Feb 19, 2013 APD evidence audit (Text)

Annual audit: May 2013

This audit was conducted by the APD as one of its annual steps to maintain the department’s professional accreditation. Inspection of a random sample of 1,013 sensitive items — 94 cash or jewelry items, 120 firearms and 799 packets of drugs — found that 11 packets of drugs went missing.

The missing drugs, which were from cases dating from 2006 to 2010, included pills, marijuana and unspecified other substances.

All mentions of the missing items are highlighted in yellow in the following document.

May 27, 2013 APD evidence audit (PDF)
May 27, 2013 APD evidence audit (Text)

Quarterly audit: May 2013

A random sample of 150 items — half of which were “sensitive” items — indicated that none of those items was missing.

There were, however, two “item issues,” according to paperwork included with the report.

In one case, two plastic BB guns were appropriately destroyed by the APD, the documents said. But an apparent “computer error” resulted in the guns still being shown in custody post-destruction.

In the other, paperwork errors left a seized vehicle, since returned to its owner, on the books as still being in APD custody.

May 30, 2013 APD evidence audit (PDF)
May 30, 2013 APD evidence audit (Text)

Quarterly audit: August 2013

Another random sample of 150 items found that a packet of drugs in the old evidence rooms was apparently missing a hydrocodone pill.

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In addition, seven of the items were “not packaged correctly according to our current standards,” the audit noted. The APD’s new evidence manager, Tim Scapin, told Carolina Public Press in May that he’d instituted new standards for how evidence is packaged.

Aug 16, 2013 APD evidence audit (PDF)
Aug 16, 2013 APD evidence audit (Text)

Jon Elliston

Jon Elliston is the lead contributing open government reporter at Carolina Public Press. Contact him at jelliston@carolinapublicpress.org.

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