Buncombe DSS Director Stonewalls Legislative Oversight Committee
Hiding Behind “Confidentiality” the Director Refuses to Provide Details About Why Police Were Told to Leave Young Girl Alone with Stranger and Drugs
Director of Buncombe County Health and Human Services Talmadge “Stoney” Blevins provided few answers to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services about why officers with the Black Mountain Police Department were reportedly told to leave a 9-year-old girl in a hotel room with a stranger, meth, and more than 100 used needles back in March.
Mr. Blevins testified in response to a subpoena issued by the committee in September. However, he objected to several portions of the subpoena asking for the release of non-confidential information related to the March incident.
Mr. Blevins, when asked on several occasions for information that in some circumstances are public record — like employment status or length of employment — he claimed confidentiality. Mr. Blevins chalked the incident up to a “communications breakdown,” but wouldn’t provide specifics about the breakdown or what led up to the breakdown.
Mr. Blevins claimed his agency did not give advice to leave the young girl with a stranger in a room with used needles, contradicting the written police report that says the opposite. When directly asked to tell what advice his agency did give, he refused to provide details beyond reading a small, cherry-picked portion of the police report.
“Today, we heard a lot of talking, but didn’t hear a lot of answers,” Sen. Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) said. “The committee was clear. We were not looking for confidential information. We wanted to know the procedures and decision-making processes that nearly put a 9-year-old girl in a dangerous situation. Instead, we were stonewalled by Mr. Blevins who hid behind claims of confidentiality. I wish Mr. Blevins had been more forthcoming with us today. The legislature will continue to do its job to seek answers to ensure that no child ever has to be put in this situation again.”
According to the Asheville Citizen Times, the young girl was found in a car with three adults — including her father — on Interstate 40. While searching the car officers found needles and drugs. After arresting the adults, the father told the Black Mountain police to take the girl back to a hotel room to stay with a man he met earlier that day. When police got to the hotel room, they found more drugs and 150 used needles, according to the Citizen Times. The officers then called Buncombe County DSS because they didn’t feel it was safe to leave the girl in the room.
DSS staff didn’t respond to the scene. According to the police report, officers were told to leave the girl with the man in the hotel room. Instead, officers took her to the police station and waited for a family member to pick her up the next day.