Former Maywood Commander Tapped To Lead Chicago Police Oversight Body

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Sydney Roberts, a former Maywood police commander and director of the Illinois Secretary of State Police, has been selected to lead COPA. | Sydney Roberts/LinkedIn

A former commander with the Maywood Police Department has been selected to lead the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the city’s new police oversight agency.

Sydney Roberts was chosen unanimously by a panel of Chicago community leaders responsible for choosing someone to serve out what remains of the 4-year term of Sharon Fairley, COPA’s former chief administrator who left to run for Attorney General. Fairley lost the March 20 Democratic Primary race for that position.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel accepted the panel’s recommendation, noting in a March 28 statement that the “diverse group represents many communities in our city, and their vote of confidence in Ms. Roberts is an encouraging step forward.”

Roberts has been the director of the Illinois Secretary of State Police since 2010. Before then, she worked as chief operating officer for the Illinois Office of Executive Inspector General, “leading investigations of fraud, waste, abuse and misconduct,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

Roberts served as a commander with the Maywood Police Department, where she presided over the internal affairs division, between January and December of 2000, according to her LinkedIn profile. Before that, she was a lieutenant with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office in New Jersey, from 1988 until 1999.

Roberts’ appointment was expected to be approved by the Chicago City Council on March 28. If approved, Roberts would replace COPA’s interim chief, retired Cook County Judge Patricia Banks, who took over temporarily after Fairley left.

Paula Wolff, the director of the Illinois Justice Project and the co-chair of the search committee, lauded Roberts’ “superb investigative skills” and said that members were “impressed with her passion for public accountability and respect for the rights of all residents of Chicago — community members and police officers alike.”

In 2016, following the fallout from the release of dash-cam footage showing teenager Laquan McDonald getting shot 16 times by a Chicago Police officer, the Chicago City Council voted to replace the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) with COPA in order to strengthen community-police relations and shore up accountability in police the department.

“It is an honor to have been selected and to have the opportunity to serve in a capacity to build trust and confidence in the police accountability structure of Chicago,” Roberts stated in the statement that Emanuel’s office released on March 28.

“I promise, as I have done my entire career, to make decisions based only on the facts,” she said, “and to lead COPA with fairness, openness and independence as my guiding principles.” VFP 

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