In response to Houston Police Chief Troy Finner’s revelation that more than 260,000 incident reports were closed using a banned code, two senior officers were demoted and Mayor John Whitmire announced a new commission to review the cases.

Assistant Chiefs Ernest Garcia, head of Organizational Development Command, and Kevin Deese, head of Criminal Investigations Command were both demoted as a result of the case suspensions. The cases were suspended using a code implemented in 2016 that indicated there was not enough personnel to investigate the reported incident. Both the mayor and police chief now say it should have never even been created in the first place.  

Whitmire also announced an independent review panel to handle the review of suspended cases and an internal investigation but said more information about who the panel consists of, what organizations they belong to, and how many people will be on it will come later. “It’s going to be a panel of people that I respect and that have my confidence that they’re going to review the work product.” 

There hasn’t been much additional information from the administration or Finner since announcing that the expanded review found 264,000 cases, up from the originally announced 4,017 cases. 

What has been made public is that since the chief ordered the review, they have reviewed at least 3,000 cases and assigned 32 more officers to help with the investigation. 100 officers were dispatched across the city to contact victims and, so far, there have been close to 700 contacts. 

A recent news report found that even though the chief announced a change to the policy ordering the code to stop being used on February 22, the department still used the code 44 more times for three days.

Both Whitmire and Finner promised that there will be accountability once the review is complete and that they will be transparent about who was involved, what policies were ignored, and who will ultimately be held responsible. 

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.