Houston Police Chief Troy Finner Steps Down Amid Controversy Surrounding Suspended Cases

troy-finner

Chief Troy Finner’s unexpected retirement from the Houston Police Department was announced late Tuesday, with him tendering his resignation to Mayor John Whitmire amidst renewed scrutiny into the suspension of thousands of criminal investigations.

The focal point of concern revolves around an internal departmental code employed in 264,000 cases to halt investigations due to staffing shortages, encompassing around 4,000 sexual assault cases.

Finner’s sudden departure follows the revelation of an email, indicating his awareness of the code as early as 2018, in contrast to his previous assertion of learning about it in 2021. This discrepancy potentially implicated Finner in an ongoing investigation that appeared to be concluding just last week.

While Mayor Whitmire stated that Finner’s retirement was ultimately the chief’s decision, it was made through dialogue with the mayor.

In an email to city staff late at night, Whitmire appointed Assistant Police Chief Larry Satterwhite as the acting chief, expressing full confidence in Satterwhite’s ability to lead and maintain the department’s high standards.

Despite Whitmire’s prior vocal support for Finner and initiation of an independent committee to review the suspended cases and police department’s actions, the emergence of the email became the “final straw” prompting Whitmire to accept Finner’s resignation.

Whitmire now faces the consequential decision, to be made independently, of selecting a permanent chief amidst declining crime rates but persisting public safety concerns.

Council members lauded Finner’s tenure, acknowledging his three years of service amid a challenging period marked by the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and the contentious Harding Street raid.

Finner, a native of Fifth Ward and a product of Houston public schools, rose through the ranks since joining the force in 1990, eventually being appointed as chief by former Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Several council members expressed their belief in Finner’s assertion of not recalling the 2018 email referencing suspended cases, noting his prior stance of deeming such suspensions as “unacceptable.”

Finner did not respond to requests for comment but conveyed gratitude to citizens and department employees via a statement.

“The last few months of my career were, perhaps, the most challenging yet most rewarding,” Finner said. “It was painful because some victims of violent crime did not receive the quality of care and service they deserved. But, it was also beneficial because we implemented measures to ensure this never happens again.”