The Asheville Citizen-Times (North Carolina)
BYLINE: By, Jon Ostendorff
Outgoing Police Chief Bill Hogan, in a memo to staff announcing he would retire, cautioned that coming months would be crucial for the department.
"The collective reputation of all employees hangs in the balance, and the public and media will be watching very closely to see how you move forward from here," he said in an email to police and city department heads.
"It is critically important at this juncture to constantly display patience, emotional intelligence, professionalism and a caring attitude when dealing with co-workers and the public," Hogan wrote.
He has not returned messages seeking comment since the city's announcement of his retirement Monday afternoon.
The change comes amid a state investigation into police handling of evidence. An internal sample audit found staff had lost track of at least 27 guns, 54 containers of drugs and 34 packages of money and valuables.
Hogan will get about $75,000 a year in retirement from the state based on 36 years in law enforcement and the average of his last four years of salary, according to a benefits calculator on the state treasurer's website.
Of his 36 years in law enforcement, 11 were spent in North Carolina, according to state records.
Hogan's retirement didn't show up in the state system on Tuesday, said Heather Strickland, a spokeswoman for the treasurer's office.
Hogan is making $122,109 a year now, up from $99,000 when he was hired in 2004. He plans to step down May 13.
Hogan told police and department directors in an email minutes before the city announced his retirement that he decided to leave after "much thought and reflection" and that it was time to "move to the next stage of my life."
He said it had been an honor to work with the "dedicated professionals" at the department.
The city plans to select an interim chief by the end of the month. It's not known whether that interim leader would be picked from the ranks of current officers. Hogan's time in Asheville was marked by a crackdown on drug dealing and gangs and crimes such as panhandling and graffiti. It was also marked by problems that included racist and sexist text messages sent by a sergeant to another officer. The sergeant was later demoted but not fired.
Problems in the evidence room surfaced Jan. 25, when longtime manager Lee Smith was placed on investigative leave.
Smith later resigned.
Hogan learned on March 6 that an audit of 807 items showed 20 percent couldn't be located.
Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore's office didn't learn of the problem until about a month later, when an assistant prosecutor preparing for a drug case discovered 397 pills of painkiller oxycodone missing from containers inside the evidence room.
Moore on April 5 ordered the evidence room sealed and an independent audit of about 1,000 high-risk items. He also suspended jury trials and directed the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the missing drugs.
The department will spend $175,000 on a complete audit.
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