Houston’s new police chief, Troy Finner, knows the people and businesses in the Southwest Management District. And the Southwest Management District knows the chief.
Finner grew up on the southwest side of town in the Hiram Clarke neighborhood. After he joined HPD in 1990, his first patrol training assignments were in and around the District in the Sharpstown and Gulfton areas.
“Those streets are very near and dear to me,” the chief said in an interview with the District. “A lot of good memories out there, a lot of good policing. A lot of good nights and some ‘bad’ nights as well.”
On his way to serving in virtually every division of the police department, including internal affairs and public affairs, Finner worked in the Southwest and South Gessner patrol divisions, whose territories include parts of the District.
In those strikingly diverse neighborhoods, where dozens of languages are spoken, Finner developed a philosophy he emphasizes after being appointed chief by Mayor Sylvester Turner and unanimously confirmed by the City Council in March.
“The Asian community, the Latino community, the (South Asian) community, we need to make sure they are represented in our department and that we also have an ear to the challenges they are going through,” he said. “A lot of times police departments worry about stats. But we’re in the business of people. You’ve got to make sure that you’re listening to people, that you are hearing their hearts and you are hearing what’s going on, and serve them in the way they need to be served.”
It was almost a given when, at a Chinatown news conference in 2017 to warn business owners and shoppers about crimes in parking lots and to urge them to report every such incidents, Finner was there as a top commander representing HPD, shoulder to shoulder with District Attorney Kim Ogg and state Rep. Gene Wu.
Before the previous police chief, Art Acevedo, resigned to run the Miami police department, Finner committed to deliver the keynote speech at the District’s annual March on Crime event honoring outstanding officers in the area.
Finner kept his commitment after being named chief. On March 30, he looked on as three patrol commanders presented “officer of the year” awards. The names announced from the stage at Houston Baptist University reflected the diverse force on which Finner aims to build HPD’s performance:
Midwest Commander Jennifer Read honored Senior Officer Dean Nguyen, South Gessner Commander Vidal Lopez honored Senior Officer Thomas Conner and Westside Commander David Angelo honored Officer Ana Bertens.
On the way to his next leadership appearance, Finner stopped to record a video about the strong ties among HPD, the District and himself.
The District funds and oversees extra HPD patrols, private security patrols, mobile security cameras, specialized police training, graffiti abatement and other programs related to public safety within its boundaries.
“The Southwest District has been so supportive to the police department. Everything that we’ve gone through over the last decade or so, they’ve always been there,” he said. “When we were low on funding and we needed additional money for operations, they give it up, and I just want to say thank you. It’s so great to have partnerships like that from management districts who understand and are willing to partner with the police department.”
— by Alan Bernstein