Houston mayor says police chief is out amid probe into thousands of dropped cases

HOUSTON (AP) — The mayor of Houston has accepted the retirement of the city’s police chief as the department investigates why thousands of cases including sexual assault crimes were dropped, a city spokesperson said Wednesday.

Mayor John Whitmire accepted the retirement of Police Chief Troy Finner, who is stepping away following reports Tuesday that he was aware of a code used to drop the cases, years before acknowledging its existence.

Whitmire appointed assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite as acting chief and will discuss the chief’s retirement during a City Council meeting Wednesday, according to spokesperson Mary Benton.

Finner’s retirement comes as police investigate the dropping of more 4,000 sexual assault cases that are among more than 264,000 incident reports never submitted for investigation due to staffing issues during the past eight years.

Finner, who joined the Houston police department in 1990 and became chief in 2021, announced the investigation in March after revealing that officers were assigning an internal code to the unsubmitted cases that cited a lack of personnel available.

Finner apologized at that point, saying he had ordered officers to stop in November 2021 after finding out for the first time that officers had been using the code to justify dropping cases. Despite this, he said, he learned on Feb. 7 of this year that it was still being used to dismiss a significant number of adult sexual assault cases.

On Tuesday, several Houston TV stations reported that Finner was included and responded to an email in 2018 referring to the suspended cases.

Finner posted a statement on X saying he did not remember that email until he was shown a copy of it on Tuesday. “I have always been truthful and have never set out to mislead anyone about anything,” Finner wrote.

“Even though the phrase ‘suspended lack of personnel’ was included in the 2018 email, there was nothing that alerted me to its existence as a code or how it was applied within the department,” Finner wrote.

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