An internal affairs investigation has been launched into how some Houston police department homicide cases were handled by detectives. The probe has led to one veteran officer being relieved of duty with pay.
"There was a question that was raised regarding some policy and procedure issues surrounding an investigation," said Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland.
McClelland would not discuss specifics of the investigation he ordered into how some members of his homicide division handled murder cases. However, sources told Local 2 the internal probe focuses on whether some cases were not thoroughly investigated or leads properly pursued. Sources said the investigation is also looking at how detectives handling those cases were supervised.
McClelland did say he does not believe the problem is widespread.
"No one has given me any information or evidence that has caused me to lose confidence in the homicide division or the management of the homicide division," said McClelland.
Local 2 has confirmed that as a result of the ongoing probe Sgt. Ryan Chandler has been relieved of duty with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. According to HPD officials, Chandler joined the department in 2000 and was a homicide detective from January 2008 until August 2013, when he was transferred to the investigative first responders division.
Houston Police Officers' Union President Ray Hunt said he could not comment directly on the investigation. Hunt did say none of the allegations involve wrongful arrests. Hunt also defended the homicide division's track record of solving cases.
"I can tell you that the national average of clearing of homicide cases is less than 70 percent. Our homicide division in 2012 was over 70 percent; 2013 it was 76 percent," said Hunt.
Following a city council meeting on Wednesday, Mayor Annise Parker said she finds the allegations troubling.
"If it is true that there have been problems and failures to investigate, it will send shockwaves through the department," said Parker.
McClelland said the investigation is not complete and no formal conclusions have been reached.