The Harris County Sheriff in Houston has named an inspector general to investigate abuses at the county jail, reports the Houston Chronicle. The appointment comes as federal authorities review local lockups and a local congressional leader plans an inquiry into county judicial matters, including jail conditions, this week. Some community leaders and sheriff’s office critics question whether it will be an impartial investigative office. “It’s still police policing police,” said Parnell Herbert of the Coalition for Justice, an umbrella organization for several social-justice groups.
Traditionally, jail supervisors investigated complaints against staff. The sheriff’s new investigative arm will relieve supervisors of the time-consuming investigations and allow them to focus on supervisory duties. Investigators with the oversight office, created about six weeks ago, will regularly tour county jails to ensure that proper operations and procedures are followed. “It’ll be more eyes to make sure our practices comport with existing policies,” said Capt. John Martin, sheriff’s office spokesman. Two jail officers were fired last week after investigators determined they lied about the New Year’s Day confrontation that resulted in an inmate death.