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The Asheville Police Department’s new chief, William Anderson, plans to speak to media representatives about the evidence-room audit on Thursday, a day after the city manager told Carolina Public Press that he has yet to see the document. Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press

Asheville’s new police chief, William Anderson, will host a “sit-down meeting to discuss (the) property and evidence room with media representatives” today at 11 a.m., according to an e-mail advisory released late Thursday.

The meeting will take place in the chief’s conference room in the Municipal Building at 100 Court Plaza, the advisory said, offering no additional details.

The controversy about items found missing from the police evidence room — and an extensive audit of the room’s holdings which remains under wraps four months after its completion — mostly predates Anderson’s time in Asheville. He was sworn in on March 1, nearly a year after news broke of the missing items.

Meanwhile, Asheville City Manager Gary Jackson summarized his inquiries about the audit in a statement released to Carolina Public Press on Thursday.

In January of this year, when the audit was delivered to Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore, “police administration and city management received a briefing on the audit work completed to date,” Jackson said in the e-mailed statement. “When I asked when the final audit report would be available, (Moore) informed me that aspects of the auditor’s work were under review by the State Bureau of Investigation.”

Moore has thus far refused to release a copy of the audit report. He forwarded Carolina Public Press’ request to the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts. Tammy Smith, with the office’s legal division, said in a statement that the documents are not public records. And in an e-mail dated May 3 sent in response to a public-records request from Carolina Public Press, Captain Wade Wood, of the Asheville Police Department, said, “The APD does not have access to the Blueline Audit report.”

“When I inquired about the status in March, I was informed that the SBI investigation was ongoing,” Jackson added. “I support the release of the audit findings at the earliest time deemed appropriate by our District Attorney.”

The $175,000 audit was commissioned by Asheville City Council in April 2011. And though a clause in the contract for the audit said that the city would receive a copy, that hasn’t happened, according to city officials.

On Monday this week, Carolina Public Press reported that while Asheville City Council members are monitoring the matter to varying degrees, there appears to be little consensus about whether to request the audit.

Council member Cecil Bothwell did say, however, that he’ll officially request the report on May 28 at the next meeting of the city’s Public Safety Committee, which he chairs.

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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