April 14, 2021 | UHCL Staff
For the second time in 11 years, the Houston City Council has appointed a University of Houston-Clear Lake alumnus as the city's chief of police. Troy Finner, who completed his Master of Arts in Criminology in 2009, was unanimously elected to the city's highest law enforcement position on March 24.
Finner, a 31-year veteran of HPD, was elevated to the top position after HPD Chief Arthur Acevedo announced his intention on March 15 to become chief of police in Miami.
He's not the only UH-Clear Lake alumnus to take Houston's highest office in law enforcement. Acevedo's predecessor, Charles McClelland, Jr., also served as HPD's chief from 2010-16 and is a UH-Clear Lake Distinguished Alumnus.
UHCL Professor of Criminology Everette Penn said that Finner's appointment to the city's highest law enforcement role was a reflection of UHCL's Criminology program's success in teaching students to apply theory to real-world practice.
"Our curriculum helps students understand the diversity of the most diverse city in the country — Houston," Penn said. "I taught Troy in a class called 'Race and Crime.' The goal is to explore issues surrounding diversity, race, class and how they relate to criminal justice so that equality can be applied in all areas. Our curriculum teaches a good theoretical base that students can apply to practice in leadership roles in criminology and law enforcement."
Penn said that among Finner's top priorities as police chief was to continue improving relationships between Houston's youth and the police.
"The events of the summer of 2020 are always in our mind, so this is our opportunity to grow with him at the head, as a national model," he said. "UHCL's minor in Youth and Police Studies offers students a chance to participate in experiential learning with the Teen and Police Service Academy (TAPS). With Troy Finner as chief, it's a new day in Houston. He will ensure better relationships between youth and police; he'll be that listening ear and stay actively involved in creating better relationship."
Penn said that TAPS would continue developing and with Finner's support, would take the lead in building better youth-police relations in Houston.
He said he believed that with Finner as chief of police, Houston could become a model for better youth and police relations. "We are ecstatic to have him in this leadership position," he said.
In addition to McClelland and Finner, another UHCL alumnus, Pedro Lopez, Jr. is the chief of police at Houston Independent School District.
"UHCL is the place where police chiefs are made," Penn said.