New Houston Acting Police Chief: Did he know about the suspended case scandal?

Larry Satterwhite took the reins of the Houston Police Department Wednesday as acting police chief after a late night email Tuesday confirmed former police chief Troy Finner's retirement

His retirement comes amid the scandal of 264,000 cases that went un-investigated at the department over the past eight years - being marked as "Suspended - Lack of Personnel."  The case load, including violent crimes, made up 10% of all the cases filed in the time period. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: HPD Internal Affairs investigation complete, suspended reports still being reviewed

That news came to light in February. Since then, the department has been working to resolve the issue - assigning investigators to many of the cases. Their last update on the progress was April 30 when the department said in a statement, "107,094 incident reports have been reviewed. Almost half of them, 49,939, fit the criteria for being closed, cleared, inactivated or suspended. Most involve reports with no leads."

Finner saying publicly he's been aware of the code used to filed the cases as suspended since 2021. 

But, early this week, a 2018 email surfaced suggesting Finner knew about the code in 2018. His retirement followed shortly after. 

"I was sick when I saw the recent email, but I don't have time to be sick. I have to lead," said Houston Mayor John Whitmire. 

Satterwhite addressed the public as acting chief just 17 hours after Finner stepped down. He explained his background in the department and answered the big questions we had to ask. 

CONTINUOUS COVERAGE: Houston Police Chief Troy Finner retiring: Mayor, Council members respond

When was he made aware of the "suspended" code and cases? 

Satterwhite didn't give a direct answer. He didn't name a distinct time he was made aware this code was being used and cases were routinely going un-investigated. 

He says in 2021, while he was Executive Assistant Chief, a meeting was held and the issue was on the agenda. But, he says he left that meeting early. 

"I don't remember anything about that - I certainly don't remember suspending one for a lack of manpower, it doesn't sound right to me and I just don't remember it," he said.

Saying he was made aware at the end of last year. "It was very obvious going into the end of the last year, and then it came to the forefront," he said. 

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Does he agree with Finner's move to step down?

Satterwhite says he respects Finner and his dedicated service to the department. He declined to speculate on the decision. But, he did say the suspended cases weren't handled correctly. 

"I'm not a big blame guy, I'm not. We as an agency, as a department, on this one, failed," he said. 

Will Satterwhite be Houston's new police chief? 

It's possible. Ultimately, the decision is up to Mayor Whitmire and that is on the top of his agenda. But there have been talks of the Mayor looking to bring in someone from outside the city to fill the role. 

"Historically, if you look around the nation, when we have an agency go through something like this, there's a strong desire to bring someone in from the outside," said Satterwhite. 

MORE: "It's my decision': Mayor Whitmire's criteria for HPD's new chief after Finner's departure

He said he's still working as he wants the permanent position. "I would be honored to serve in a permanent capacity, it would be great to be the chief. But I also understand the real world," he said. 

He said regardless, he respects the Mayor's decision.