Internal audits, court documents and investigation reviews have raised questions about the supervision that Houston police officers receive for handling confidential informants, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The flashpoint for the discussion is former narcotics officer Gerald Goines, who was charged with murder after a 2019 drug raid allegedly sparked by his deception led to the deaths of two homeowners and injuries to himself and four other officers.
The newspaper noted that judges have already overturned two convictions this month in cases handled by Goines, and Harris County prosecutors are now reviewing hundreds of his old cases.
Internal audits have found several instances of officers failing to follow policies and procedures: Supervisors have signed off on incomplete paperwork to pay informants, officers have exceeded payment limits for confidential informants, and documents were signed but not notarized, the Chronicle reported.
Experts told the newspaper these seemingly minor violations of the rules increase the chance that major issues will develop and create an environment where a rogue officer can operate unchecked.
Stephen Nasta, a former New York Police Department inspector, told the Chronicle that police departments set parameters for a reason.
“If you don’t have controls, you can think it’s your money and [that] you can do what you want with it,” he said. “It can lead to problems.”
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo declined comment to the newspaper, saying he hadn’t had enough time to review the audits.