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Published on April 21, 2024
Houston Police Tackle Sexual Assault Case Backlog; 4,017 Reviews Completed, Investigations RevivedSource: Google Street View

In a significant move towards justice, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner revealed the department's progress in tackling a backlog of adult sexual assault cases that had been left hanging due to insufficient staffing. In a statement provided by Click2Houston, Finner announced the completion of a review of 4,017 sexual assault reports with the work on another 264,000 various incident reports underway.

Facing a daunting pileup, the Houston Police Department has acted, scheduling 399 forensic interviews with survivors and visiting 1,767 addresses to connect with victims. Having reviewed 91,824 reports department-wide, the initiative has so far cleared, suspended, or inactivated 3,462 cases, mostly due to stagnation without fresh leads. Suspended, their mission is to bring closure and justice to victims, as the department rekindles the stalled investigations, "The remaining reports are being investigated. Any incident will be reopened should a complainant contact us and provide additional information or evidence," said Finner in the update.

Technology has cast a spotlight on potential perpetrators with DNA profile matches. Out of the 95 incident reports where DNA profiles were collected, 14 matches turned up suspects already serving time for other crimes. "Our follow-up investigations are underway on those individuals. CODIS profile matches are evidence, but not necessarily proof an individual committed a crime," Finner clarified. According to Finner's X update on the department’s review, there are 94 cases under active investigation spurred on by these findings.

In a parallel thrust, 807 reports with a family violence component were re-examined, leading to the potential deactivation, suspension, or clearance of 551 cases. Still being followed on to determine the necessity of further investigation are the remaining 250 cases, as the comprehensive review marches forward. Acknowledging the scale of this administrative overhaul, Finner shared that 30,000 of the 92,000 incident reports reviewed were properly suspended but had been tagged erroneously due to staff shortages, "That means one of every three reports we are reviewing was correctly suspended, but with the wrong code," Finner mentioned, according to Click2Houston.

Charge sheets are starting to tally up too, with 34 charges filed against 27 suspects, though many are for lesser offenses, some do include serious violent crimes. "We are learning from any past mistakes in our case management and review protocols and making corrections as this review process continues," Finner said, committing to improvement and transparency. The department's pace in reviewing around 10,000 reports each week, assisted by officers working extra shifts, is a positive sign for a community in wait of justice and resolution.