CHICAGO (CBS) — The head of Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) the group charged with oversight for the city’s police department has left the agency.
In her resignation letter, Sydney Roberts said she was proud of her accomplishments with the oversight organization.READ MORE: Rev. Jesse Jackson Released From Rehab, Family Says He And Wife Are Now COVID-Free
Roberts was appointed by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel and confirmed by City Council in April of 2018.
“It has been a tremendous honor to serve these last three years as COPA’s Chief Administrator” said Roberts. “I led COPA from the very start of my tenure with a keen awareness of the new agency’s importance in enabling civilian oversight of law enforcement. COPA has assumed an unprecedented role in ensuring law enforcement accountability through investigations of the use of deadly force and other misconduct complaints, transparency of investigative activity, outcomes and data, as well as efforts to forge positive relationships within all of Chicago’s communities.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she did not ask for Roberts’ resignation but said she was disappointed with how the agency has responded, namely in the Anjanette Young wrong raid case and the issue of numerous wrong raids carried out by CPD.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve been extraordinarily unhappy with the way that they’ve handled a number of things, not the least of which is taking of 18 months to move forward on an investigation regarding Anjanette Young,” Lightfoot said. “And a lot of that time nothing happened. That’s not acceptable. And I’ve been very candid about the fact that I think COPA needs to be much more responsive much more mindful about the fact that he carries a very important position and role in police accountability.”
This week, Young participated in town hall discussion about City Hall’s proposed ordinance in her name focused on wrong raids. The proposal was introduced to the City Council in February by five Black alderwomen, but has yet to get a hearing.
“You know, my name is on it. This started because of my experience,” she said. “But this is larger than Anjanette Young.”
The wrong raid on Young’s home two years ago was first exposed by CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini. Young was handcuffed naked and terrified by officers on a botched raid who had the wrong home.READ MORE: Simeon High School Student Jamari Williams Shot And Killed Blocks From School; Classmate Wounded In Separate Shooting In Hyde Park
The ordinance named after her is sweeping in its proposed changes to how CPD would execute search warrants. It calls for all raids to include a knock, an announcement, and no less than 30 seconds’ wait to break down a door.
“I’m happy to sit down and talk with any or all of the advocates for the ordinance,” said Lightfoot about the four Black aldermen who sponsored the legislation. “They launched the ordinance with a press conference in which was the first said, I or anybody in the police department knew anything about it.”
The mayor said she is hesitant to change CPD’s search warrant practices through city law, rather than department policies.
“I am dubious about codifying a policy that should be a born of a process obviously dictated by the consent decree that requires nimbleness, a lot of engagement with the community,” Lightfoot said. “If we make it static, as in a City Council law that would be unprecedented number one, but I think it would inhibit the ability of the department to respond nimbly to changing circumstances that might warrant some quicker action than what might be able to be done through City council process.”
The mayor said she’s happy to sit down with the sponsors of the Anjanette Young ordinance, and any other advocates for the changes it seeks, but said “it doesn’t seem to have been written by somebody with a lot of experience and background in local policing, and best practices.”
As for Roberts’ departure, Lightfoot said an interim person will be placed until a person to succeed Roberts is named.
“We’ve got to make sure that they move forward, that thorough with expeditious way, because as everyone knows, justice delayed is justice denied,” Lightfoot said, who thanked Roberts for her time at COPA.
“Her task was not an easy one, even under normal circumstances. Yet, despite the challenges of this past year, she remained focused on increasing accountability and transparency within CPD and established meaningful relationships with community members, stakeholders and most importantly, impacted parties. I wish her the best in her future endeavors,” Lightfoot said.MORE NEWS: City To Install Or Upgrade 100 Miles Of Bike Lanes Over Next Two Years
Roberts’ resignation is the second high profile exit from Lightfoot’s administration this week. On Tuesday, CPS CEO Janice Jackson said she would be stepping down as head of Chicago’s Public Schools district at the end of June.