Houston police chief retires suddenly after questions raised about more than 260,000 suspended investigations

Houston’s police chief unexpectedly retired from the force Tuesday night amid questions about a department policy that allowed hundreds of thousands of cases to be suspended, including sexual abuse cases, according to the mayor’s office.

Troy Finner had served as the chief of the Houston Police Department since 2021, capping off a 34-year career with the department.

“I consider Troy Finner a friend. It was tough to accept his retirement, but it was in the best interest of Houstonians,” Houston Mayor John Whitmire said in an impromptu news conference Wednesday.

The retirement announcement came hours after an internal email obtained by CNN affiliate KHOU showed Finner referring to an investigation being suspended due to “lack of personnel,” in 2018, three years before he had said he was aware of the policy.

Finner was executive assistant chief over patrol operations at the time the email was written.

At a February news conference, Finner said he didn’t know about the practice until 2021, the year he became chief, when he ordered the department’s Special Victims Division to stop using the “lack of personnel” code to suspended investigations.

Finner said in April the police department had made progress reviewing about 264,000 investigations that were suspended since 2016 citing only lack of personnel. More than 4,000 of those cases involved allegations of adult sex crimes. An independent review committee is also investigating.

In a statement issued Tuesday night after the KHOU report aired, Finner said, “I have always been truthful and have never set out to mislead anyone about anything, including this investigation.”

The outgoing chief said he did not know about the “suspended lack of personnel” codes used by Houston police at the time, despite it being mentioned in the email.

Finner’s statement promised he would “address the media and the public” once the investigation was complete. The mayor informed the city council of Finner’s retirement later that night.

Larry Satterwhite was appointed acting police chief by Whitmire Wednesday. Satterwhite served as executive assistant chief under Finner. The mayor declined to say whether he had asked for Finner’s retirement.

“It was affecting operations at HPD. That’s the bottom line,” Whitmire told reporters Wednesday. “I dealt with it because it was a distraction to the mission of the men and women in HPD.”

Finner did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the police department had not officially announced the change of leadership.

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