We would all like to believe the police force is made up of honest people dedicated to keeping us safe. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Harris County law enforcement agencies have become one of the prime examples of back alley justice. They have been accused and found guilty of planting evidence and skewing numbers of citations in order to get false convictions and meet bonus-granting quotas.
When it comes to investigating real crimes, these agencies have also fallen short. There are accusations of destroying evidence and even failing to investigate murder cases.
Tampering with Evidence
In September, 2016, Harris County was found guilty of destroying over 20,000 pieces of evidence. The Precinct 4 Constable’s Office evidence room scandal occurred while constables destroyed evidence from pending cases, while attempting to clean the files.
At least 90 cases were dismissed due to the mishap, possibly including some violent offenders awaiting trial.
The officer responsible for the destruction of evidence was fired, and an independent expert was brought in to assess the damage.
Finding how many cases were affected proved tricky, as the lists of cases provided by the department were either incomplete or conflicting with other lists.
In 2014, at least four officers were convicted of falsifying traffic citations in order to bolster numbers.
Higher numbers of citations and traffic tickets resulted in bonuses and overtime pay for officers involved.
This was not the first time four officers had been accused of the scheme. In 2012, four different officers were brought under scrutiny for the same crime.
The day he discovered he would be investigated by the office of internal affairs, one officer shot and killed himself inside his patrol car.
As a result, 6,000 traffic tickets across the county were dismissed. The scandal came on the heels of a far more serious scandal—the department’s failure to properly investigate murder cases.
Failure to Investigate Murder Cases
The most serious recent scandal involved eight officers and cases from over a decade. They were accused of failing to fully investigate over a dozen murder cases, including the shooting of an 11-month-old girl.
Officers failed to do the most basic procedures for investigations, including visiting the crime scene, improperly filing evidence, and failing to interview witnesses or even suspects.
The Harris County Police Department has become a well-known hub for scandal and oversight. Police officers are failing their duties to protect and serve.
Instead, the department is embroiled in scandals involving lost evidence, lies to superiors and partners, forging documents, ignoring victims’ rights and sexually harassing co-workers.
Don’t Let Corruption Accuse You
If you have been accused of criminal charges and might be facing jail time, schedule a free consultation with Thiessen Law Firm to ensure you don’t fall victim to back alley justice and corrupt law enforcement.