Mayor moves OIG out of HPD

July 14, 2010 4:58:31 PM PDT
The Houston mayor's decision to put someone else in charge of the Office of Inspector General means more officers on the streets, but the police union is not happy about it. The Office of Inspector General is responsible for investigating wrongdoing within the city of Houston. Mayor Annise Parker is taking that out of the hands of the police department, and the union doesn't like the decision.

It was last July when two female firefighters found graffiti scrawled on their lockers in Houston's Fire Station 54. What followed for firefighters Paula Keyes and Jane Draycott was a months-long OIG investigation that eventually yielded no results.

"The investigation that was handled under OIG supervision was obviously botched, they never figured out who did the graffiti," said Draycott's attorney, Joe Ahmad.

Mayor Parker says the firefighters' case played a minor part in a major announcement that she is moving the OIG out of the Houston Police Department.

"It was certainly part of my decision-making process, but this was really spurred by looking at all of our city departments and looking at opportunities for efficiencies and clear processes," said Mayor Parker.

The city attorney's office will now oversee the Office of Inspector General; it will be run by civilian lawyers not police investigators.

"We're very concerned about it. We don't think investigating crimes, or alleged crimes, should be taken place by lawyers. We think they should be done by trained investigators," said Ray Hunt of the Houston Police Officers' Union.

The union says it was blindsided by the mayor's decision and is convinced its investigators didn't botch the female firefighter investigation.

"Everything was investigated, everything was turned over, add I think the OIG did a very, very good job," said Hunt.

However, Mayor Parker obviously feels differently. OIG's staff of 19 police officers and seven fire investigators will now be re-assigned, with the final responsibility resting squarely on her shoulders.

"The ultimate responsibility for oversight and receiving information from the Office of Inspector General has always been the mayor's office," she said.

Mayor Parker says the officers and firefighters currently in OIG will be reassigned to jobs within those departments. She hopes that will mean more officers will end up on the streets.


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