Just Keep Bailing….

As I sit here and type this article, I believe that the department is at one of its lowest points in my 33 years. This started with Acevedo and his inability to properly manage such a large department without heavy-handed discipline.  It was evident that he was above his head and as time went on the morale of the department continued to decline.  When he finally left for greener pastures (or whiter beaches) we felt that Chief Finner may be the right person to turn this slow-moving ship around.  Unfortunately, the morale has continued to sink into the depths of the abyss.

There have been many times when I have sat with the Chief and did my best to get him to understand what the rank and file felt.  We have had some very heated discussions over different issues. This is not the time to point fingers or be fighting amongst ourselves. This is a very damaging issue that the department will have a hard time recovering from.  This makes it more important now, more than ever, that we are honest with the public. Honesty builds trust! If we did not have the manpower to investigate all the cases back from 2016-2021, how are we going to be able to go back and handle them now?  It is time to be honest and tell the public that there is just no way to investigate all of the cases prior to 2021, unless there is a named suspect or “workable” evidence.

I do not want this article to turn into a bashing of Chief Finner as he is doing the best he can with the tools he has in his toolbox.  Sadly, he does not possess the tools needed for this job.  It is my belief that the Chief waited way too long to bring this to the public or respond to the media.  Had he gotten in front of the issue BEFORE the media brought it out, it would have been much easier to handle. Unfortunately, the Chief chose a different route.

When the HPOU was first contacted by the media, we questioned the information that was being put in front of us. We then began to call around and found that the information was in fact correct. The media began to push for more information, but Chief Finner chose not to respond for a week. I spoke several times with the media over this time and they continued to bring information to my attention. I was warned about speaking with the media from the department, but I felt that someone needed to be honest with the public and this was clearly a matter of public concern. I refused to lose credibility with the public because the department refused to speak.

A week after the media began questioning the department, the Chief decided to demote two of his appointed Assistant Chiefs, effectively tossing them under the bus, prior to any meaningful investigation. The quick demotion of the two Assistant Chiefs undermines the claim of HPD leadership that they care about the “fairness” of the investigation, so we have called for an outside, independent investigation.  It appears that the demotion of these two AC’s was nothing more than a knee jerk reaction to the media’s tough questions.

Sadly, I believe others may get caught in the middle of a storm that they did not cause or even know about. Officers and supervisors across the department are afraid that they will be the next one sacrificed for the “good of the department.”  This has again diminished the morale of the rank and file of the department. Many officers have been pulled to help with this momentous task of finding old complainants. This has disrupted their lives as well as the lives of their co-workers because their normal case load does not just go away.  There are still cases coming in by the hundreds every day and those cases will have to go somewhere for investigation.

The department can seem to find manpower hours for One HPD, or manpower to investigate every little body camera violation, but we can’t find the manpower to investigate important criminal cases. This department is a sinking ship, and we just continue to bail as fast as we can.  The men and women of the Houston Police Department are the most important asset, but I can certainly see why they do not feel that way.  This department is in a no-win situation, yet our members continue to fight for the great citizens of Houston.

 

Published March 20, 2024

Author Doug Griffith, HPOU President