Mayor Sylvester Turner said Thursday that Executive Assistant Chief Troy Finner will succeed police Chief Art Acevedo, who said this week he would be leaving America’s fourth-largest city to become chief of the smaller Miami police department.
Ashton P. Woods, an activist and founder of Black Lives Matter Houston, said he’s skeptical Finner will be able to change the department as the mayor has previously resisted the group’s calls for reforms.
“I don’t think the environment is conducive for him to do anything substantive,” Woods said.
Pending approval from the Houston City Council, Finner is set to take over the more than 3,500-officer force on April 5, according to a statement from the city.
His promotion was applauded by the top local prosecutor, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, who said the incoming chief “can bring a sense of unity and public safety to the community.”
Others believe the transition is happening too fast and without community input.
“Mayor Sylvester Turner is announcing a new HPD chief less than a week than Acevedo announcing his move… without ANY community input?” Houston Justice founder and executive director Durrel Douglas wrote Thursday in a Facebook post. “No 90-day task force? No zoom community town halls? A doodle poll? Guess not.”
“Here we have a mayor who’s been in public office for some 30 years, yet didn’t ask a single Houstonian,” Douglas told Houston Public Media. “He is showing us that he is sort of the king of Houston, not the mayor.”
Finner will take over the police department as it is still dealing with fallout from a deadly raid on a “no-knock” warrant in 2019 that led to the indictment of a dozen current and former officers tied to a police narcotics unit.
At the time, police accused a couple of selling cocaine from their home. The couple was killed in the raid, and their relatives have sued. Prosecutors have since accused one of the officers who led the raid of lying to obtain the search warrant. The officer was charged with murder. And Acevedo announced a few weeks after the raid that the police department would no longer use no-knock warrants.
Finner began with the Houston police department in 1990. He said his priority as chief will be to reduce the number of homicides and other violent crimes, as well as building trust with the community.
He pleaded for unity during a news conference Thursday and compared the Texas city, which like others in the United States has seen rising violent crime over the past year, to a leaky boat struggling to find shore.
“If somebody starts getting off course and throwing stones and what not, do you think you’re going to get to safe ground?” Finner said. “That’s where we are right now.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.