Monday, April 15, 2024

Houston PD Ignored 264K Serious Cases, Including Rape, while Touting Crime Drop

'It’s ugly. It don’t feel good. It’s a part of that process that we brought upon ourselves...'

(Headline USA) The Biden administration and its leftist allies have used a shell-game tactic to claim crime rates have drastically declined in recent years, despite the fact that the opposite is true.

In reality, blue-run cities like Houston, Texas—many of which have been hijacked by George Soros-backed prosecutors, judges and law-enforcement officials—are simply refusing to do their jobs with the same degree of thoroughness and letting many crimes, instead, slip through the cracks.

Media outlets in 2023 claimed Houston had seen a sharp decline in crime, due in large part to press releases touting th bogus statistics from the Houston Police Department.

“The reductions are a direct result of Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston City Council, and the dedication and hard work of the Houston Police officers, and HPD’s commitment to public safety and maintaining the quality of life for all Houstonians,” the department claimed in an August 2023 release.

It touted Turner’s “holistic approach” to crime-fighting, a euphemistic way of saying that it was following the “defund the police” model of building police trust in minority communities by failing to prosecute routine crimes, focusing only on areas where the crime was creating a serious public-safety threat.

“HPD was able to increase officers on the street for increased visibility, address specific crime trends, and focus on high crime areas,” said the release. “HPD increased officers on the street for increased visibility, addressed specific crime trends, and focused on high-crime areas.”

However, public trust is now plummeting after the department’s malpractice was exposed by recent revelations that it had dropped more than 264,000 cases filed in the past eight years, including some 4,017 serious sexual assaults.

Houston’s police chief on Tuesday declined to say whether the scandal spoke to broader problems within his agency that needed to be fixed.

During a nearly two-hour meeting at police headquarters in downtown Houston with reporters and local community leaders, Chief Troy Finner acknowledged his department has lost some trust with the public because of the ongoing scandal.

In February, Finner announced that hundreds of thousands of incident reports, including for sexual assaults and property crimes, were never submitted for investigation as officers assigned them an internal code that cited a lack of available personnel.

But Finner said he wasn’t ready to declare that the mishandling of these incident reports was an example of bigger cultural problems within the police department and how officers perform their duties.

After a deadly drug raid in 2019, an audit found multiple problems with the Houston police narcotics unit behind the raid, including a lack of supervision and officers making hundreds of errors in cases.

“It’s ugly. It don’t feel good. It’s a part of that process that we brought upon ourselves,” Finner said during the meeting, which reporters were not allowed to record.

Finner said there would be accountability but declined to provide more details on this, citing an internal affairs investigation set to be completed by the end of April.

Last month, Mayor John Whitmire announced the creation of an independent panel to review police handling of the dropped cases.

Two assistant chiefs have already been demoted over their roles in the matter.

The police department has so far reviewed 67,533 of the 264,000 incident reports, Finner said Tuesday.

The department’s top priority has been reaching out to people who filed more than 4,000 sexual assault reports that were suspended, with 3,883 having been reviewed as of Tuesday, Finner said.

The internal code, part of the department’s record management system, was created in 2016, years before Finner became chief in April 2021.

Finner said he first found out officers were using the code during a meeting on Nov. 4, 2021, and gave an order for it to stop. But then he learned on Feb. 7 of this year that it was still being used to dismiss a significant number of adult sexual assault cases.

Finner suggested he and others in his department might have failed to follow up on whether the internal code was no longer being used because they were dealing with various issues, including a dramatic spike in crime during the pandemic, a shortage of officers and the deaths of 10 people at the Astroworld music festival, which happened a day after the meeting where he told his staff to stop using the code.

“I don’t make any excuses. When you are the chief, you are responsible,” Finner said.

One of the community activists who attended Tuesday’s meeting, Cesar Espinosa, executive director of FIEL, a Houston-based civil rights group, said there needs to be full transparency with the ongoing investigation and with any punishment so that people don’t think “this is business as usual.”

“We just want to know the facts about what happened and how we’re going to keep it from happening again,” Espinosa said.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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