Just three days after outgoing Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo’s surprising announcement that he's leaving town to lead the Miami Police Department, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner named HPD Executive Assistant Chief Troy Finner as Bayou City’s new top cop.
In an upbeat press conference held as Finner’s wife and 10-year-old son watched in the front row, Finner first thanked God for being granted the opportunity to lead one of the nation’s largest police forces.
“I am so humbled, so honored to lead this great department in this great city with so many great citizens,” Finner said.
He then calmly stressed the need for cooperation and togetherness between local law enforcers.
“It’s time that everybody takes some responsibility and everybody come together. Let’s stop throwing stones at one another. Let’s sit down,” Finner said.
It was a markedly different tone than Acevedo took in his Tuesday going-away speech when he angrily blasted Harris County’s criminal justice system for allegedly not doing enough to keep violent criminals behind bars, and a signal that Houston’s new chief likely won’t be nearly as bombastic as its last.
A 31-year department veteran, Finner first joined the HPD force in 1990 and has been executive assistant chief since 2014. His fellow assistant chief, Matt Slinkard, was one of two internal candidates Acevedo mentioned as worthy successors in an email to HPD officers Sunday night and in his remarks to the local media.
Turner touted Finner as a leader who will “maintain the trust of our diverse community,” and seemed especially proud to be handing the reins of HPD to a fellow Houston native.
“Troy Finner is not just from Houston, he is Houston,” Turner said, pointing out that Finner was born in Fifth Ward and graduated from Madison High School before getting his degree in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University and his master’s of criminal justice from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
He also praised Finner as a respected leader within the department committed to reform, and said his new chief understands “the importance of doing everything possible to put in place most of the recommendations coming from the Mayor’s Task Force on Police Reform.”
Slinkard took the mike to confirm that he’ll be staying on as Finner’s right hand man in his current role as executive assistant chief, and seemed genuinely excited about his longtime partner’s promotion.
“Congratulations my friend, my brother. You wholeheartedly deserve this distinct honor, and the city of Houston will be blessed and God will be pleased by your constant display of servant leadership,” Slinkard said.
Finner said that in addition to addressing the rising violent crime rate and building trust in the community, he’s committed to implementing most of the HPD reforms outlined by the mayor’s policing task force last year, following criticism from reform advocates that Turner and Acevedo haven’t worked quickly enough to put those changes into place after the report came out in October.
“I can tell you that as Chief Acevedo has said — and Mayor Turner can attest to it — the great, great majority of the recommendations put forward, we agree to roll them out… we should be sending something out really really soon here,” Finner said.
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