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HPD chief defends homicide unit despite ongoing probe into possibly botched murder investigations

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Houston homicide detectives find themselves under the microscope, as the subject of an internal investigation. Authorities want to find out if a number of murder cases were fully investigated.

Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland would not give specifics about the allegations against the HPD Homicide Unit. But he says he is the one who ordered it after there was some question of policy and procedure surrounding an investigation.

The Houston Police Department Homicide Unit investigates the worst of crimes. When someone is murdered, they are the ones tasked with finding the person responsible. And now they are the ones under investigation.

"It would be irresponsible of me to try and speculate on the number of officers who were involved, why. It would be irresponsible reporting to assume or speculate," McClelland said.

As we first told you Wednesday night, HPD's internal affairs has for weeks been looking at old cases and those who investigated them. We know at least one sergeant has been relieved of duty, though McClelland would not confirm that. Sources tell us this all started as a probe into that one sergeant's work but then grew from there into a much broader look at whether a number of cases were properly investigated.

Mayor Annise Parker told us Wednesday the allegations could destroy public trust, faith and confidence in the department.

"If it is true, that there have been problems and a failure to investigate, it will have shockwaves throughout the department," Parker said.

But McClelland on Thursday defended his detectives.

"If one of my loved ones was murdered in this city, I would want the Houston Police Department homicide division to conduct that investigation and no other law enforcement agency. That's how confident I am," McClelland said.

The Houston Police Officer's Union confirms that they have an attorney representing one person as a result of this investigation. They also tell us that despite that officer being relieved of duty, that should not be confused with any sort of punishment. That would only occur after an investigation is complete.

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