Sydney Roberts nominated to head Chicago's Civilian Office of Police Accountability

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The woman tapped to become the new administrator of Chicago's Civilian Office of Police Accountability has promised changes to the way her office investigates allegations of police misconduct. (WLS)

The woman tapped to become the new administrator of Chicago's Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) has promised changes to the way her office investigates allegations of police misconduct.

Some have questioned whether Sydney Roberts, who has a law enforcement background, can effectively lead a civilian agency that investigates police. But at her city council confirmation hearing Friday, Roberts promised independence, including from the man who appointed her, Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Sydney Roberts went before aldermen and vowed to earn the trust of the public.

"I believe that I report to the complainant, to the person who has made an allegation," Roberts said when asked to whom she would be reporting.

Something the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and its predecessor, the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), have struggled to do in the wake of numerous police shootings.

"From a leadership standpoint, I believe that I need to sell the message and let the community know that I am accessible," said Sydney Roberts.

Roberts, a former Maywood police commander and current director of the Illinois Secretary of State police said she didn't have enough facts to comment on COPA's investigation of Officer Robert Rialmo, who the agency recommended be fired for shooting and killing Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has said he disagrees with COPA's assessment.

Regarding such high-profile investigations, Roberts made this promise: "I would be as transparent and open as possible regarding the outcome."

"She spoke the right way about process, about accountability and about transparency," said Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd Ward).

Roberts' pending confirmation comes as the council is set to consider police reform proposals, including one that would create a civilian oversight committee with the power to hire and fire the COPA director.

When asked if Roberts would support that, she responded, "I wouldn't not support it."

Roberts was confirmed Friday by the city council's committee on public safety. She still needs the approval of the full council, but she's not expected to face significant hurdles.
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