Mayor’s committee on HPD dropped cases provides its report

Up to Council and HPD to take action now.

Mayor John Whitmire

The independent panel reviewing the ongoing Houston Police Department scandal over suspended cases identified an interim police chief as the one who ordered the creation of the “SL” lack of personnel code and made a wide range of recommendations to avoid similar systemwide failures in the future.

The preliminary report, shared with City Council on Wednesday morning, said that Martha Montalvo, who served as the department’s acting chief for a few months in 2016, approved the implementation of the code throughout the department and added that the special victims division began using it immediately. In the first six months of 2016, the report says, the division suspended 550 cases involving sex offenses due to lack of personnel.

The report, ordered by Mayor John Whitmire, recommended the Houston Police Department should standardize reporting procedures and put departmentwide directives in writing to prevent another scandal from happening in the future.

It also provided revised numbers on how many total incident reports were suspended using the internal code — going from 264,000 to 268,920 — with around 9,167 from the special victims division, or sexual assault incident reports.

“I still find it so mind-boggling and unacceptable that for 10 years, no stakeholder, no active officers, no employees, no administration, no one brought this to our attention,” Whitmire said.

The report, which focused on the incident reports suspended in the special victims division, confirmed many of the Chronicle’s recent findings — the code was borne out of discussions that started in 2014 about cases that were not being investigated because of a lack of personnel and proliferated in use in the years since because of inconsistent division policy, bad data reporting and no oversight from above on what was happening on a divisional level.

“We learned early on, due to lapses in technology, the divisions could become inundated and lead to the problems we see today,” said Christina Nowak, a committee member and the deputy inspector general of the Office of Policing Reform and Accountability for the City of Houston.

See here for the background. I thank the Committee for their work, and I hope that proper followup action is taken as noted above. I also wonder if we’ll hear from former Chief Montalvo about that. I assume the committee talked to her – the report isn’t public yet so I can’t say for sure. It would be hilarious, and a little embarrassing, if she comes forward now to dispute that finding. Anyway, now it’s time to move forward. Whatever happened happened before Mayor Whitmire took office, but fixing it is now on him. I’m sure he’ll want to get that right. Houston Landing and Emily Takes Notes have more.

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2 Responses to Mayor’s committee on HPD dropped cases provides its report

  1. Flypusher says:

    Off topic, but I hope everything is ok at your house Chuck. Looks like the Heights got smacked rather hard by yesterday’s storms.

    On topic, I’d like to know if any if these cases can be reopened, particularly the sexual assault cases.

  2. Flypusher: We’re without power but otherwise fine, thanks for asking. Hope everyone reading this is doing well and that CenterPoint can get their systems back up and running ASAP,

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