Confirmation Hearing Begins for New COPA Chief

In her first Chicago City Council meeting, the woman nominated to lead the Civilian Office of Police Accountability promised to earn the public’s trust as community groups ask for more input.

The confirmation hearing to make Sydney Roberts the next director of COPA centered on her plans to respond to community concerns about police investigations.

“I believe that I need to sell the message and let the community know that I am accessible,” she said.

Roberts, the current director of the Illinois Secretary of State Police, steered away from reacting to current controversy surrounding the fatal police shooting of a Chicago teen.

In that case, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and COPA disagree over whether Officer Robert Rialmo was justified in shooting Quintonio LeGrier and bystander Bettie Jones.

“I would be as transparent and open as possible,” she said.

While the mayor’s office attempted to usher Roberts away from the media once the hearing was over, she stopped and spoke briefly to reporters.

“I’m excited and humbled by the honor that I have been nominated,” she said. “And I look forward to engaging the community on police reform and increasing oversight in the Chicago Police Department.”

With change on the horizon, community groups, who have been meeting for nearly two years on police reform, say they’re fighting for a bigger voice in decision-making.

“It is about having true community representation at the table when we’re making decisions about community policing,” said resident Erik Martinez.

Exactly what input community groups will receive is not yet settled. Several proposals will be before City Council on the matter.

Roberts’ appointment is expected to sail through the full council at the next meeting.

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