Houston/ Politics & Govt
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Published on March 11, 2024
Houston Police Chief Vows Action Amid Shocking Backlog of Over 260,000 Criminal CasesSource: Google Street View

Houston's top cop is in full damage control after a monstrous backlog of more than 260,000 criminal cases came to light, cases that were never investigated due to a "lack of personnel," Fox 26 Houston reports. Police Chief Troy Finner addressed the issue head-on, admitting before reporters that the heap of suspended allegations included upwards of 115 thousand assaults, in addition to a staggering 91 thousand property and financial crimes.

Amid mounting pressure and growing public unrest, the chief conceded the department's fault and vowed to take action. "I apologize to victims, their families, our citizens for the use of the code suspended lack of personnel and sexual assault incidents and other violent crimes against persons. This is not the trauma-informed victim services they deserve," Chief Finner told KIAH. He disclosed that the issue was first brought to his attention in November 2021, when he deemed the practice unacceptable and commanded it to cease.

Mayor John Whitmire, grievously inheriting this scandal, aired his befuddlement that not a single officer or administrator came forth sooner. "I can't believe that there wasn't some police officer or some administrator that didn't sound the alarm about - "Ya'll know what's going on over there?" up to 200 thousand plus cases, a wide range of offenses, certainly sexual assault.  . . . .I can't believe someone didn't get me off to the side and say you know we got a code that we are using, that we don't investigate stuff because we don't have the staffing." Whitmire voiced his disbelief to Fox 26 Houston.

On the frontline of mending the breach, Chief Finner has mobilized an additional 32 investigators and supervisors to sift through the suspended cases. Out of the 4,017 adult sex crime cases revealed in the internal review, 3,010 have been re-examined, and 133 victims are now awaiting follow-up interviews. "As of this morning, we’ve made 698 visits. And as we speak those visits are increasing. We have people trying to locate victims right now," the chief said in a press conference reported by KIAH.

The eyes of the community now watch closely as Chief Finner calls for robust backing from city leaders and the public alike to secure a significant increase in funding. It's a necessary maneuver to plug the gaping shortage of an estimated 2,000 officers required to optimally patrol streets and conduct investigations in Houston, notes KIAH. Furthermore, along with bolstering the numbers, Chief Finner stressed the importance of support for the whole judicial process, from crime labs to courts, ensuring that once apprehended, "violent offenders don't need to be let out on our streets."

The saga has unmistakably shaken Houston's trust in its police department. Yet, in the shadow of disappointment, Chief Finner remains resolute, signaling his determination to not only rectify the problem but to spearhead an evolution towards a more accountable and efficient police force. "I know that there’s disappointment and pain but there’s still a level of trust in our city. And I’m grateful for that. I love this city. I want the survivors, their family members, our community to know that we’re going to fix this. We made a lot of progress in just a few weeks. And the most important thing through pain comes improvement and through our pain, our department the chief everyone we’re going to fix this problem and we’re going to be a better department moving forward." he affirmed to KIAH.