Lawmakers call for transparency at HPD while calling recent narcotics division audit a ‘joke’

HOUSTON – Calling a recently released audit of the Houston Police Department’s narcotics division a “joke,” state lawmakers said they will work on legislation that requires more transparency in policing.

State Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston) was joined Thursday by State Reps. Christina Morales (D-Houston), Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston), Gina Calanni (D-Houston) and Anna Eastman (D-Houston) at 7815 Harding St., the site of the Jan. 28, 2019, police raid that ended with the deaths of residents Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas.

“Harding Street is not where the corruption in the Houston Police Department’s narcotics division started, but we’re hopeful this is where it will end,” Wu said.

Lawmakers, Harding Street families discuss HPD audit

Lawmakers and Harding Street families discuss the recent audit of HPD's narcotics division.

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Thursday, July 2, 2020

Wu said he and other lawmakers have been calling on HPD to release the internal audit since March. He said it wasn’t until the day before his planned news conference that the audit was released to the public.

The audit released Wednesday showed there were more than 400 errors across more than 200 cases brought by the narcotics division.

However, Wu said the audit is missing crucial information about who is ultimately responsible for allowing something like the deadly Harding Street raid to happen in the first place.

“It doesn’t speak to the systemic problems that led to the deaths of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas,” Wu said. “The report does not talk about how HPD brass, what they will do to fix this in the future.”

“It’s a joke,” he added.

All of the lawmakers agreed that there should be reforms at the Police Department, saying the public is demanding more transparency. Rosenthal said he will also push for community-based oversight boards, while Eastman said she will push for audits to happen at regular intervals instead of being prompted by tragedy.

Former HPD Officer Gerald Goines, who obtained the no-knock warrant that led to the raid, is accused of lying on the affidavit used to get the warrant. Five other officers and a civilian have also been charged in connection with the case.

Wu said he and other lawmakers will work on legislation that prevents public agencies from withholding reports like the audit from the public. He said they will also look at recommendations stemming from the audit for other possible legislation.

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