HPD officers face suspensions

October 12, 2008 8:37:53 PM PDT
A 13 Undercover investigation has sparked a probe at the Houston Police Department. Now a lot of officers and three top commanders are paying the price. It revolves about computer usage in the department. It's led to suspensions, and it all began when 13 Undercover broke the story last year.

Possible misuse of police computers, suspicious time cards on extra jobs...

"It's one of the largest investigations to result in so many officers being disciplined in our history," said HPD attorney Craig Ferrell.

Now HPD Chief Harold Hurtt has lowered the boom. Thirty HPD officers are being punished. Carl Discroll is one of the captains suspended for using police computers to help run his outside security business.

"He was sending a message, I think, very loud and clear," Ferrell said.

For years Captain Dwayne Ready was the public face of the Houston Police Department. He nearly doubled his salary coordinating lucrative security jobs for off-duty HPD officers in the medical center, midtown and southeast Houston.

"How do I find the time? It's been hard, I admit it," Capt. Ready said.

We began to examine the time cards of some of Captain Ready's off-duty bicycle patrol officers in southeast and midtown.

Capt. Ready explained, "I have no compunction at all saying that when officers put in work cards to ride the district, that they are riding the district."

But we found lots of times when police officers were claiming to be in two places at one time.

"The only person I know that is that fast is Superman," Wayne said.

"And Superman is a mythical character," HPD Capt M.W. Thaler admitted.

Wayne continued, "Faster than a speeding bullet. Cops aren't."

"You made your point, I think," Thaler said.

Captain Ready has already started his 90 day suspension.

Ferrell said, "His attention to extra employment coordination efforts were less than management standards and brought reproach to the department."

Captain Ready has been permanently banned from working extra jobs, and he's not the only one. The penalty could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"If you add up the loss to extra job income and time lost to suspensions, that would be a true statement," Ferrell said.

Hurricane Ike delayed a lot of the punishments from going into effect for weeks, but most of the suspensions begin this week. No officer is facing criminal charges, in part because the police records were so sloppy. HPD now has one form for all police and extra job work, and have reminded officers the computers taxpayers pay for are for police business.

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