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April 19, 2024

Police Chief Finner Provides Latest Update on Suspended Incident Reports Review

I have said from the beginning that we will keep our community updated throughout this extensive process of reviewing 4,017 adult sexual assault incident reports and 264,000 department-wide incident reports suspended with a code of “lack of personnel” dating back to 2016.

Effective today, our investigators and officers have reviewed all 4,017 incident reports with an adult sex crime nexus. Of those, 3,462 have been cleared, suspended or inactivated, mostly due to no additional leads. The remaining reports are being investigated. Any incident will be reopened should a complainant contact us and provide additional information or evidence.

In our last update, we announced we learned there were 95 incident reports located with DNA profiles collected that resulted in profile matches (hits) with individuals in the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Following a review of those 95 incidents, it was learned one of the incidents did not involve a CODIS hit. This was verified by the Houston Forensic Science Center. Investigators are actively following up on the now updated 94 reports. We have determined that 14 of those hits match profiles of 14 suspects currently incarcerated for separate crimes. Our follow-up investigations are underway on those individuals. CODIS profile matches are evidence, but not necessarily proof an individual committed a crime.

Most important, we remain laser-focused on providing trauma-informed services to any sexual assault survivors and are prioritizing family violence and crimes against persons reports. All 807 incident reports initially located with a family violence nexus have been reviewed, with 551 of them found to fit criteria for being cleared, inactivated or suspended. We are following up on the other 250 incidents to determine how many require follow-up investigations.

In the first eight weeks of our review of the 264,000 incident reports, nearly 92,000 have been reviewed, more than 1/3 of all reports. Of those 92,000, we have determined about 1/3 of them (30,000) were properly suspended, but should have used a code other than the lack of personnel. That means one of every three reports we are reviewing was correctly suspended, but with the wrong code.

Through this review, investigators have had a total of 34 charges filed on 27 suspects. Some are for violent crimes such as aggravated assault, while most are charged with misdemeanors.

This is what progress looks like. We are learning from any past mistakes in our case management and review protocols and making corrections as this review process continues. Our communications with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the Houston Forensic Science Center have improved, with frequent meetings being held to discuss best avenues in seeking justice for any survivors and complainants.

Through the efforts of personnel on-duty and on extra shifts, working seven days a week, we are reviewing about 10,000 reports per week.

As I’ve said, HPD will be a better police department when this review process and follow-up investigations are completed. We cannot rush the review process, but our community should know we are making steady progress.