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Houston Police Chief Troy Finner Out Amid Questions about Suspended Cases

Houston’s Chief of Police, Troy Finner, has been replaced amid concerns about his knowledge of a code that suspended over 260,000 cases earlier than he had previously stated. Mayor John Whitmire sent an email to Houston Police Department employees late on Tuesday night, announcing the change in leadership. Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite will serve as the acting police chief. The mayor accepted Finner’s retirement, effective immediately.

Finner was appointed by former Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in March 2021 to oversee the city’s police department, which consists of over 5,300 officers and 1,200 civilian support staff. However, his tenure extended into Mayor Whitmire’s administration. In February of this year, Finner revealed that thousands of sexual assault investigations had been suspended due to a lack of personnel, using a specific code known as “SL.” In subsequent weeks, it was revealed that over 264,000 investigations had been suspended since 2016 due to this code.

Questions arose about when Finner became aware of the suspended cases and what actions he took to address the issue. A 2018 email obtained by 13 Investigates raised doubts about Finner’s timeline. The email, which was addressed to high-ranking HPD leaders including Finner and then-Chief Art Acevedo, mentioned a road rage case marked “Suspended-Lack of Personnel.” Finner responded to the email, expressing his dissatisfaction with the situation and requesting further investigation.

During a news conference in March, Finner stated that he first became aware of the code in November 2021 and ordered his leaders not to use it again. However, the 2018 email suggests that he knew about the code being used at least once before that time. Finner released a statement after the report, claiming that he had no recollection of the email until Tuesday.

The email sent to HPD staffers announcing Finner’s dismissal did not provide specific reasons for his removal. Neither Finner nor Mayor Whitmire have made public statements about the leadership change as of yet.

The impact of Finner’s departure and the revelations about the suspended cases on the Houston Police Department remains to be seen. However, Mayor Whitmire expressed confidence in Acting Chief Satterwhite’s ability to lead and maintain the department’s high standards. Any victims whose contact information has changed since their report can reach out to the special victims unit for assistance.

In conclusion, the replacement of Chief Troy Finner raises questions about his knowledge of the code that led to the suspension of over 260,000 cases. The revelation of a 2018 email suggesting earlier awareness of the code adds to the controversy. The Houston Police Department now faces the challenge of rebuilding trust and addressing the backlog of suspended investigations. The appointment of Acting Chief Larry Satterwhite indicates a commitment to upholding the department’s standards and providing leadership during this transition period.

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