My Story

smiley

 

My name is Katherine Swilley. I am a former Houston Police Department Senior Officer with 22 years in law enforcement. I was a member of the Police Department’s elite and highly trained Special Response Group. I was also instrumental in planning several fund raisers for fellow officers and their families in need.

After hearing people ask the questions where are the “Good” Cops, Why  “Good” Cops don’t speak out following the incidents in Ferguson, New York, Baltimore, Houston and seeing the DOJ report on Ferguson Police Department.

I felt compel to do something, to tell my story and the stories of other cops,  so I started the Cops Holding Cops Accountable Organization, to bring awareness to retaliation against “Good” Cops who report police misconduct, this includes discrimination, and to bring awareness to the Code of Silence, a culture that protects “Bad” Cops.

The Cops Holding Cops Accountable Initiative is about supporting “Good” Cops, and Holding “Bad” Cops Accountable

It is about all the “Good” Cops in the Houston Police Department and other Law Enforcement Agencies who have been retaliated against suspended, wrongfully terminated, issued erroneous dishonorable discharges, and forced of out Law Enforcement, after Breaking the Code of Silence, to report police misconduct, this includes discrimination.

It is about how officers struggle to clear their names after being lied on and wrongfully terminated. It is about how even civilian authorities  close their eyes when officers are terminated, choosing to believe officers are out to “get” the police department when officers try to tell their side of the story. It is about officers who are mentally and financially broken by a system that have failed them.

The Cops Holding Cops Accountable Initiative is about the Code of Silence, a cancer that spreads to corrupt others to remain silent in the face of police misconduct, while creating an Anti Police climate that endanger the lives of all cops and citizens.

My Story

In 2000, I founded and successfully operated the non-profit Texas Cops & Kids, Cops Giving Kids Quality Time…Not Jail Time, a long term juvenile delinquency program for disadvantaged youth in some of Houston’s poorest neighborhoods.

The juvenile delinquency prevention program was based on my concerns about the lack of options that disadvantaged youth had in some of Houston’s poorest neighborhoods. I enlisted the support of my fellow officers to serve as mentors. I also coordinated the annual Texas Cops & Kids Dare to Care Fundraiser Dinner and an Annual Golf Tournament.

I also started Texas Cops & Kids because I had observed the level of mistrust and fear mostly black and brown urban youth had developed toward police officers.

The nonprofit’s purpose was to be a long-term preventive maintenance program for disadvantaged youth and to break through the communication barriers between community kids and law enforcement by demonstrating to children that “Cops” are their protectors…not their enemies.

Texas Cops & Kids “Reading is Fun” in-school mentor and tutoring program received National attention and became part of Governor Perry’s mentoring program. Texas Cops & Kids was also featured  in the National Youth Today Magazine.

The program paired members of law enforcement with youth in high crime neighborhoods elementary schools located in the toughest areas in Houston.  During the programs operation both parents and teachers documented that the children felt spending time with officers helped them both academically and socially.

In September 2005, I was awarded the City of Houston’s prestigious Bravo Award by Mayor Bill White for my community service with Texas Cops & Kids program and for developing a plan to collect fees for outstanding traffic warrants. The plan netted more than $178,773 in fines the first month, resulted in 362 arrests and cleared 894 cases. Another similar program I assisted with netted an additional $756,335 in fines within the first seven weeks it was implemented and cleared more than 2400 cases.

The Texas Cops & Kids program also gained the attention of Houston Police Department Chief, Harold Hurtt.  Because of my experience with successfully managing a community-based youth program, Chief Hurtt tapped me to lead the implementation of the National “Kids at Hope” program, to model Texas Cops & Kids police mentoring program for police officers, which he felt would benefit troubled youth across the city of Houston and be an asset to the Houston Police Department.

Chief Harold Hurtt reassigned me to the Public Affairs Division on special assignment in May 2006, as HPD’s Community Liaison Officer to initiate and promote the Chief’s “Kids at Hope” program and implement a law enforcement mentoring program.

In 2006, I  successfully formed a partnership with Big Brothers and Big Sisters for the police department and Volunteer Houston.

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt says there’s an obvious need for positive interaction between police officers and at-risk kids.

“This effort to get mentors for our young people is very important, because if we don’t provide them with role-models, they will find one, or one will find them. We wanted to make sure that this partnership is a positive experience for our young people to help them to make good decisions, not only to stay in school and succeed in school but also to make good decisions in being a great citizen

In 2007, I also successfully reorganized the Chief’s Youth Police Advisory Council, to open the program to approximately 40 HISD High Schools with 36 students from each school, serving over 1400 students.

Instead of the two schools and approximately 20 students that was participating in the program. The benefit of reorganizing the program would have a greater impact on more students because it would served more schools.

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt says, thank you for your commitment to Y-PAC, which is a very worthwhile program that foster a better relationship between HPD and the area’s youth.  

However, everything changed and went downhill for me at HPD in 2007, after I reported what I believed was discrimination by my supervisors’ lack of support for the inner city delinquency prevention program that served at risk youth, and my concerns that I was expected to continue fundraising for the program without having my supervisors support for the program.

After reporting my concerns to Chief Hurtt, I was immediately retaliated against with the following: a bogus AWOL charge; to remove me from work so all my work files could be confiscated from my desk; in an effort to frame me on criminal charges of misappropriating funds.

The Department’s Internal Affairs then opened a baseless criminal investigation on me for misappropriating funds from the Youth Programs. Next, the Department’s Internal Affairs (IAD) went shopping for a prosecutor at the DA’s office to accept charges against me for misappropriating funds.

The evidence in the records revealed that IAD attempted to persuade prosecutors to pursue the charges. The prosecutors kept denying pursuing the case because of lack of evidence.

The DA’s office cleared me of the criminal investigation due to: lack of evidence. However, in order to save face, after rumors were spread throughout the department, and in the community that I was terminated for misappropriating funds.

The department terminated me on false untruthfulness charges, after I revoked my willingness to be bound by the terms in a “Last-Chance” Compromise Waiver Agreement, that required me to drop any and all discrimination complaints I may have with EEOC. I was also issued an erroneous dishonorable discharge.

After spending my entire savings to clear my name and fighting to obtained the IAD File, after I was told the file could not be located. I was able to obtain copies of the City of Houston Inter Office Correspondence, Investigative Summary/Synopsis, which confirmed that I was innocent of the allegations of misappropriating funds from the Youth Programs and other charges.

The reports revealed that the department was well aware that I was innocent and there were no facts to support the baseless criminal investigation against me, as far back as, August 2007, eight months before the department terminated me on false untruthfulness charges in March 2008, and that the department knowingly issued me an erroneous dishonorable discharged, ending my 22 yrs career in law enforcement.

The following excerpts from the IAD files confirmed that I was innocent of the allegations of misappropriating money from the Youth Programs.

The Investigative Summary/Synopsis identified as: “Subject Administrative Complaint Investigation No. 29409-2007”, dated August 20, 2007 from T.A Horton, Lieutenant Internal Affairs Division states on (Pg 2 Paragraph 4, From the evidence presented and other relevant documents submitted for this investigation, I found no evidence to prove Officer Swilley’s non-profit organization, Texas Cops and Kids misappropriated or mishandled fundraiser monies. Case evidence also depicts that Officers Swilley did not use donations received from any of the fundraiser programs that were initiated on behalf of Kids at Hope initiative for the Houston Independent School District for personal compensation or gain. Nor did Officer Swilley or Texas Cops and Kids non-profit organization ever receive or procure any of the $25,000.00 grant that was awarded to the Kids at Hope program in Phoenix Arizona.

(Pg 72, Paragraph 4 of the Investigative Report, Issue Record #29409-2007, Schedule A Tax Forms for 2004 and 2005 states Officer Swilley’s Schedule A tax forms for 2004 and 2005 that reflect large gifts to charity. The 2004 form indicates that Officer Swilley and her husband donated $21, 829 to charity. The 2005 form indicates they gave $11,184 to charity. Officer Swilley provided the forms and explained that she and her husband, since the inception of Texas Cops and Kids, have donated their personal funds to the organization so it would have funds to function.

In addition an affidavit obtained February 2012, further confirmed that HPD’s Internal Affairs knowingly subjected me to a baseless criminal investigation and attempted to persuade prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against me.

The Affidavit dated February 1, 2012 from Rick Miller, founder of Kids at Hope, and party to the IAD investigation, states “I was told by Sergeant Miller that one of the charges against Kathy Swilley is that she misappropriated funds or grants  givens to the City of Houston or its community partners by Kids at Hope. That again would be impossible because Kids at Hope did not convey any funds to the Houston project.”

“During the phone discussion with Sergeant Miller he shared that he felt the charges against Kathy Swilley were trumped up and there no facts to support the allegations.  Certainly, there were no facts to support the allegation that Kathy Swilley was misappropriating Kids at Hope funds because she never had access to them.

“I also learned from Sergeant Miller that the prosecutor kept denying pursuing the case because of lack of facts.”

The Houston Police Department’s Internal Investigation Division Confidential File, Investigative Report #29409-2007, and the sworn testimony of my supervisors confirmed the untruthfulness charges in my termination letter are completely false

The reported also revealed that the city filed an erroneous dishonorable discharge with the State of Texas, ending my career in law enforcement.

I know firsthand that the “Code of Silence” is a public safety threat. My department was willing to put me, an innocent person in jail for speaking out.

If the police were willing to put an innocent cop in jail for speaking out, who’s next?

For two years, I was placed under a court ordered protective order with sanctions and ordered not to discuss my case with anyone other than my attorney. While atrocious lies were spread throughout the police department and the community that I was terminated for stealing money from the Youth Programs.

I have had my integrity and credibility attacked and I have even been threatened and subjected to the harassment of having officers show up at my home claiming that they were responding to alarm calls or calls for help at my home. I have had suspicious vehicles parked in front of my home; dead animals have been found in  my yard, including a dead opossum in front of my home with its throat cut; my computer has been hacked; and random vehicles have driven by and fired shots in front of my home; and someone rings my doorbell in the middle of the night;  and someone wrote the words “F@#$ Y@%” with the “F” shaped as a Swastika sign on the sidewalk in front of my home; and a helicopter hovers over my house late at night. I feel all these incidents were used to intimidate me to remain silent.

My case and the information on the Cops Holding Cops Accountable website and cases in the news are examples that  police cannot police themselves, and there’s a need for police oversight, stating with Civilian Review Boards with Subpoena Power or Federal Control of Law Enforcement

The Code of Silence breeds consent and encourage and corrupt others to lie and cover-up police misconduct, including police department’s culture to retaliate against cops who report police misconduct, and discrimination in their departments.

The documented evidence of wrongdoing, and manipulation of the investigation by the Houston Police Department Internal Affairs top management is atrocious, but the misconduct of so many people to cover up the police misconduct is unconscionable.

My opportunity to seek justice was snatched by a judicial process, which had been compromised by fraud upon the courts by attorneys who misrepresented and distorted the facts associated with my termination, thus foreclosed my rights to a jury of my peers.

The Code of Silence breeds consent to corruption on every level.

Breaking the Code of Silence is a precursor to transparency and accountability in policing, which starts with;

  • Independent Police Review Boards with subpoena power, to insure transparency in police investigations, to investigate all complaints of police misconduct, including discrimination, and retaliation  in police departments.
  • Whistle Blower Laws to protect “Good” Cops who report police misconduct

As, I continue to fight to clear my name, I am requesting that you support  the calls for an Independent Police Review Boards with subpoena power and Whistle Blower Laws to protect “Good” Cops who report police misconduct.

Thank you for your time, prayers and support.

Sincerely

Kathy Swilley, Ret. Police Officer