Houston/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on May 27, 2024
Former Houston Police Chief Troy Finner Faces Scrutiny Amid Sexual Assault Case ScandalSource: City of Houston

Former HPD Chief Troy Finner is under scrutiny for how he handled officer discipline amidst the controversy. With the investigation ongoing, revelations indicate that two assistant chiefs have been demoted, and several HPD commanders are facing questions over their management of over 4,000 sexual assault cases put on hold, according to KPRC 2 Investigates.

Tensions between the Houston Police Officers Union and the department's brass had risen, notably during Finner's term. The union's attorney claims the arbitration process often sided with disciplined officers, calling into question the effectiveness of the department's actions. "At what point will HPD leadership realize that they are simply not exercising good judgment or decision-making when it comes to discipline?" Aaron Suder, the union's general counsel, told the Houston Chronicle. Meanwhile, the number of discipline letters issued yearly dipped under Finner's leadership compared to his predecessor, Art Acevedo, though the rate of lengthy suspensions remained consistent.

Union representatives point to a department morale decline, arguing that the issue is exacerbated by what they perceive as "heavy-handed" discipline for departmental infractions, like scene management and sound judgment. Douglas Griffith, president of the Houston Police Officers Union, expressed concern that officers are being punished for actions not explicitly breaching a general order. "This is the department’s effort to justify disciplining people for what they believe were infractions, but weren’t tied to any specific general order," Griffith told the Houston Chronicle.

Civil rights advocates, however, are adamant that such disciplinary measures are essential given the extraordinary power wielded by police officers. "Police can often harm people with impunity," stated Alfredo Dominguez, Houston Policing Project manager for the Civil Rights Corps, emphasizing the necessity for robust accountability measures. His comments come amidst a call for greater transparency and accountability in law enforcement following the murder of George Floyd, a call echoed nationally yet with few tangible outcomes, as The Houston Chronicle reports.

In response to the current scandal, Ray Hunt, executive director of the Houston Police Officers Union, questioned the fairness of the disciplinary process when the chief himself is caught in the crossfire. "Remember, the chief of police determines the final discipline on a case, is that fair if the chief is a part of the investigation that that person also makes the determination? That’s a question as to whether or not this mayor wants to dig into and say, 'Do I think it’s fair to my officers, do I think it’s fair to my members to be investigated and the final discipline be issued by someone who also is being questioned on this case?'" Hunt told KPRC 2 Investigates.