His journey from growing up in the neighborhoods of Houston to becoming Houston’s top cop
ABOVE: HPD Police Chief Troy Finner and his wife Sharon Finner
He has always been a proven leader. Now he is Houston’s newest top cop.
This past Monday, April 5th, Houston Police Department (HPD) Executive Assistant Chief Troy Finner was sworn in as the new Chief of Police for the City of Houston, and his story is one of continued service to the community he grew up in and patience to see this moment come to pass.
Chief Finner is a Houston native, having been born in Houston’s Fifth Ward. His mother and father were both raised in Fifth Ward and at an early age, the family moved to the Hiram Clarke area of Houston, where he was raised until he went away for college after graduating from James Madison High School in 1985.
As aforementioned, Finner was always a proven leader.
Finner played safety and running back for the Madison Marlins, and was a three-year starter at safety and served as the team’s captain. Because of the example of discipline and hard work set by his father, coupled with the mentorship and teachings of his high school coaches, it inspired Finner to go the extra mile and strive for the highest goals.
Finner went on to attend Sam Houston State University, where he initially began on a different path until finding interest in criminal justice. He eventually obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State and continued on to earn his Master of Criminal Justice degree from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
After graduating from Sam Houston State, Finner joined the police academy and eventually began his career with HPD in 1990, where he worked in every aspect of the department. He served the citizens of Houston in the Office of Public Affairs, Southwest Division, South Gessner Division, in the Internal Investigation Command and also worked as Assistant Chief of South Patrol Command. Since he was rookie, Finner has always been about building relationships, respecting people and understanding the differential aspects of people. Those qualities were things that he carried over in every rank and it led to him rising higher.
Finner was eventually promoted to Executive Chief, where he oversaw the HPD Field & Support Operations, which included responsibility for three patrol region commands and one support command encompassing 15 patrol divisions, the Traffic Enforcement Division, Emergency Communications Division, Mental Health Division, and the Gang Division.
Throughout his career, Chief Finner has completed specialized training through enrollment in elite professional development courses. He is a Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP) graduate and attended the Police Executive Leadership Institute (PELI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Executive Institute (NEI).
Now, after serving the citizens of the City of Houston for over 31 years, Finner takes over a department of more than 5,200 sworn officers and more than 870 civilian personnel.
“I am confident, he is the right person at the right time to lead the Houston Police Department,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who appointment received a unanimous vote from the Houston City Council last month. “I have asked him (Finner) to stay focused on relational policing and bridging the gaps in trust and communication between Houstonians and our police department.”
Finner expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to lead HPD.
“I am grateful to Mayor Turner for this opportunity to lead the men and women of the Houston Police Department. I have spent my entire career preparing for this moment, and I will not let down the mayor or the people of Houston,” said Chief Finner. “I have a proven track record of bringing unity within the community balanced with leading operational improvements and initiatives, which have enhanced departmental productivity and reduced costs.”
Outside of having a proven track record, Finner has also proven to be a true people person and a real down to Earth individual who isn’t afraid to talk to anyone. He believes his upbringing and his ability to relate to everyone across the entire city will help build stronger relationships with the members of the community.
“Nobody has been a better role model and mentor than my parents,” said Finner. “My mother showed me the art and blessings of unconditional love and true forgiveness. My father was a provider and did whatever he had to do to take care of his family. My mother grew up in Kelly Court projects in Fifth Ward, so when I’m rolling through there, I tell them that this is where my mother was raised, so I have love for the area because of the love I have for my own mother.”
Finner says that he never thought about being a member of law enforcement as a young person, but it eventually captured his interest while in college.
“I never grew up thinking about being a member of law enforcement because I never had a relationship with law enforcement growing up,” said Finner. “I really didn’t know a whole lot of them and I am a first generation member of law enforcement, so I had nobody in my family that were police officers. It wasn’t until I took a class in college tied to criminal justice that it peaked my interest and put me on the path that I have been on relative to my law enforcement career.”
Finner spends time talking to the younger generation about the importance of learning about the law enforcement profession, especially speaking to young Black males.
“These young people, especially our young brothers, should stop looking past a career in law enforcement. This is a great job and you can help so many people,” said Finner. “In this job, you can really make a difference and help people as part of your career, and while I know a lot of people tend to focus on many of the negative aspects of the job (and rightfully so sometimes), I also know that the majority of members of law enforcement do great and wonderful things.”
Chief Finner says that God has given him a unique ability to talk to and build relationships with everyone, regardless of their status in life, and believes that is what has helped him successfully do his job and stay connected to the community.
“I communicate with everybody, which is a gift from God and which is why I have been so effective,” said Finner. “I want to share an untold story with you. During the large George Floyd protest here in Houston, I had members of the hip-hop community and even some gang members right there alongside of me and HPD, when more than about 5,000 people stayed back to cause problems in our great city. I told them I needed it done the right way and didn’t need anyone assaulted or any other violence, and they said that wouldn’t happen. They told me that they just weren’t going to let outsiders come in to our city and wreck our city. We often hear the narratives of how our young Black males cause havoc and chaos, but I want the story to be told that we had young Black males who stood up and did the right thing and helped us as members of law enforcement protect our city. That’s the strength and a true example of what solid relationships between police and the community should look like. That is the story I want told.”
As far as his top immediate focuses as the new police chief of HPD, Finner states that addressing violent crime is at the top of the list, followed by building trust with the community, focusing on transparency and ensuring that good police officers are fully supported and appreciated.
As it relates to his legacy, Finner states that he wants to be remembered as the man he has always been…a man of his word.
“I’m Chief of Police for a short while, but I’m Troy Finner for the rest of my life,” said Finner. “My word and my family name means everything to me, so if I don’t stand on my word and protect my family’s name, then I have failed as a man. That is not something I plan to do.”
Finner is married to his wife, Sharon, and they have five children.
Congratulations Chief Troy Finner on this huge accomplishment and for making Houston proud!