Houston Mayor John Whitmire confirmed the retirement of Police Chief Troy Finner on May 8 during a regular Houston City Council meeting.

How it happened

The police chief’s resignation was first made public May 7 after a late-night email from Whitmire to the Houston Police Department was leaked.

Whitmire shared the text of the email at the May 8 council meeting. In it, he wrote: “I have accepted the retirement of Troy Finner as chief of police, and have appointed Larry Satterwhite acting chief of police, effective 10:31 p.m. tonight. I ask everyone to extend their full cooperation and support to Acting Chief Satterwhite during this transition period.”

Finner first revealed in late February that HPD dismissed 260,000 investigations department wide, which included 4,000 sexual assault cases, since 2016 due to a lack of personnel. The cases were suspended under what officials called a "lack of personnel" code.

During a March 7 press conference, Finner said he first heard of the code in 2021, five years after former Police Chief Art Acevedo enacted the code.

Hours before his resignation was announced, a July 2018 email was obtained by local media, including Community Impact partner ABC 13, that called into question when Finner first heard a case was suspended due to the “lack of personnel” code.

According to an email Finner was copied on, a specific road rage case was marked as “suspended-lack of personnel.”

In their own words

Finner issued a statement late May 7 on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying he had no recollection of the email.

“I have always been truthful and have never set out to mislead anyone about anything, including this investigation," Finner wrote. "Until I was shown the email today, I had no recollection of it. Even though the phrase 'suspended lack of personnel' was included in this 2018 email, there is nothing that alerted me to its existence as a code or how it was applied within the department.”

Finner was the executive assistant chief over patrol operations at the time.

A closer look

Whitmire said he felt Finner’s choice to retire was in the best interest of the city of Houston, the Houston Police Department and Finner himself.

“The investigation and new emerging materials had become disruptive to the department,” he said. “This had become the dominant focus of HPD staff. I could go on and on about how the indicators—new information, new investigation, the resources of reviewing those cases—was taking people off the street. It was also affecting the morale of the department."

During a press conference following the May 8 council meeting, Whitmire denied that he urged Finner to retire or gave a ‘fire or retire’ ultimatum.

“Chief Finner chose to retire, and I accepted it,” he said. “It was not easy because he has feelings, he has a life, but the department was being overwhelmed by new information, and a[n] ... email revealed some new information about him. It was the nail in the coffin; I think that’s an accurate statement to say.”

Finner served in the HPD for 34 years.

What’s next?

An Independent Review Committee, which will continue its investigation of the suspended cases under Satterwhite, is expected to give its first public update at a May 15 Houston City Council meeting.

Satterwhite will serve as acting chief until a new chief is selected. He previously served as the executive assistant chief overseeing patrol operations.

Whitmire said he is not ruling out hiring a police chief internally or externally, but selection criteria or a timeline for choosing a new chief has not yet been shared.