Houston Chief: 4,017 Sex Assault Cases Were Not Investigated, Pledges to Correct

The Houston Police Department found that 4,017 adult sex assault cases were not investigated after they were coded as "suspended due to lack of personnel." The chief said that is not acceptable and has shifted resources to look into each report.

Wayne Parham Headshot Headshot

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, in a Thursday press conference, said the department will work to correct why 4,017 adult sex assault cases were put on hold due to an improper coding that flagged the cases as “suspended due to lack of personnel.”

“I want to start by speaking directly to sexual assault survivors and their families, because that's most important. This is one of the most traumatic crimes, you and your families are important to me and should be treated with dignity and respect, which includes a trauma informed response,” Finner said in opening the press conference. “If we have missed investigating even one sexual assault, we fail. I promise, the Houston Police Department will could correct this and there will be accountability.”

In 2021 was the first time he learned of a label in the case management system for “suspended lack of personnel.”  At that time, he said, he directed the Special Victims Division to stop using that label in the system.

The chief said on Feb. 7 he learned that a significant number of adult sexual assault incidents had been coded in this manner and immediately ordered a review of those cases.

“That code was put into effect in 2016. It will not be used again in my administration. It was unacceptable, then it's unacceptable,” explained Finner. “Now, again, there will be accountability.”

Finner explained that within those more than 4,000 cases, police are finding that some are duplicates. He pointed to the case of one person suffering from mental illness and how that individual had filed 91 reports. Other incidents, he said, were mislabeled. The chief said in the past two weeks, the Houston Police Department has already reviewed about 700 of those reports.

“Again, every incident report is important, and we owe it to everyone involved to be thorough and complete,” added the chief.

Thursday, he said he had already added 22 individuals to the Special Victims Division, including an additional commander, a case management lieutenant, a second lieutenant, three sergeants, and 16 investigators. He further explained that 10 more staff members would be assigned to the team by the end of the day.

“This team will review cases, contact individuals, conduct follow up interviews, and properly code incident reports. We're also assigning additional victim advocates to ensure we're providing a trauma informed service,” Finner said.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner provides an update on how the department is digging into the more than 4,000 adult sexual assault cases that were put on hold when they were flagged “suspended due to lack of personnel.”Houston Police Chief Troy Finner provides an update on how the department is digging into the more than 4,000 adult sexual assault cases that were put on hold when they were flagged “suspended due to lack of personnel.”Houston Police Department video screenshot

About the Author
Wayne Parham Headshot Headshot
Senior Editor
View Bio
Page 1 of 2353
Next Page