Questions linger about diversity among future HPD leadership after Chief Finner's forced retirement

Rosie Nguyen Image
Thursday, May 9, 2024
Houstonians of color voice concerns over Finner vacating chief role
Some prominent black Houstonians told ABC13 they celebrated Troy Finner's promotion to HPD chief, feeling that they have a seat at the table. Now that he's no longer there, they expressed uncertainty over the future.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Neighbors and leaders from Houston's Black communities expressed shock, disappointment, and concerns over the forced retirement of Chief Troy Finner late Tuesday night.

This came after questions about when he was made aware of a department code created in 2016 that suspended more than 260,000 HPD cases.

RELATED: 'Made me sick': Mayor says he couldn't look past 2018 email about code in lead up to Finner retiring

Jean Houston lives just a few doors from Finner's childhood home on the city's southwest side.

She said she watched him grow up since he was a young boy and beamed with pride when he became the chief of the Houston Police Department three years ago.

"Everybody in our neighborhood was just so excited. That was just like my son becoming chief of police. It was important because he had young men looking up to him," Houston said.

READ MORE: SW Houston neighborhood beaming with pride after Troy Finner named HPD chief

That's why she feels upset with how things unfolded during the last three months when the public was made aware of the mishandling of sexual assault cases. She questioned the reasons behind Finner's abrupt departure.

"I feel hurt for him. He wasn't the only chief that this stuff was going through. But he's the one who had to take the fall, and I think that was very unfair. They did him wrong," Houston said.

Neighbors living in Third Ward, a predominantly Black community, just met with Finner about two weeks ago when he promised Houston police would ramp up patrol as a way to respond to their concerns about high crime.

Tomaro Bell, the president of MacGregor Super Neighborhood, said she felt like someone was finally listening to them after he joined them on foot to canvas the area.

She fears what will happen to his efforts to improve public safety and the trust he established with underserved communities.

"When you see that you have a compassionate leader who goes into the trenches on his own, walking side by side with you through the communities, talking to the parents of victims of violence, it matters," Bell said. "He listened, and he cared."

RELATED: Increased police patrols coming to Third Ward after shooting caught on camera: 'It's not surprising'

Leaders in Houston's African American communities said they're worried about whether they will continue to see diversity among HPD's leadership.

James Dixon, president of NAACP Houston, said it's important to have someone who understands the systemic issues that communities of color face when it comes to interacting and working with police.

"Chief Finner has served our city in such an exemplary way. We think this is a great loss for Houston. He was always accessible and he has familiarity with all of our communities because he is from Houston. As dynamic as our city is, it's difficult to find someone with all those attributes in one package. These are big shoes to fill," Dixon said. "We look for champions and people who represent us with the highest level of honor, respect, and integrity. One of our fears and concerns will always be, will the new person have the dexterity to work with Houston's very rich, culturally diverse community? Will they be able to relate to Acres Homes like River Oaks?"

ALSO: Who is Larry Satterwhite? What to know about new, acting HPD chief after Troy Finner stepped down

Houston Mayor John Whitmire said in a press conference early Wednesday that he has a strong track record when it comes to diversity.

He stated that diversity will be a factor in who becomes the next police chief.

For more on this story, follow Rosie Nguyen on Facebook, X and Instagram.