HOUSTON (AP) — An ongoing internal probe of the Houston Police Department's homicide division should not lessen public confidence in its work, officials said Thursday.
Houston police Chief Charles McClelland said he ordered the internal affairs investigation of the homicide unit after a question was raised regarding "some policy and procedure issues surrounding an investigation."
McClelland said that until the investigation is completed, he can't provide any additional details on the nature of the allegations that prompted the probe.
"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," he said.
McClelland said he couldn't comment on how many cases or how many officers are being reviewed as part of the investigation.
Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officer's Union, confirmed that one officer has been relieved of duty with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. He said that being relieved of duty is not a form of disciplinary action by the police department. The union has provided the officer with a lawyer.
Hunt said he doesn't know if this officer was with the homicide division when the investigation began or had already transferred to another unit.
"I am not at all concerned with the integrity of the Houston Police Department homicide division," he said. "I have the fullest confidence in everybody over there."
Hunt pointed to the homicide division's clearance rate as a sign of its success.
While the national average for homicide unit clearance rates is less than 70 percent, Hunt said the Houston unit had a clearance rate of more than 70 percent in 2012, about 76 percent in 2013 and a clearance rate of more than 80 percent in January.
Mayor Annise Parker said after a city council meeting Wednesday that while she could not comment on the ongoing probe, the potential for a homicide case not being investigated properly could have a devastating effect on the public's trust in the police department.
McClelland said it was unclear how long the investigation would take.
"I want to be able to say at the conclusion of this investigation what our findings were, what corrective actions were taken, how and if anything happened that was a violation of department policy and why it will never happen again," he said.
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