Chicago Sun-Times

Un­der fire, COPA chief con­cedes agency has ‘faced chal­lenges in the re­lease of video ma­te­rial’

- BY TOM SCHUBA, STAFF RE­PORTER tschuba@sun­times.com | @TomSchuba

Two days af­ter Chicago’s in­spec­tor gen­eral de­tailed the Civil­ian Of­fice of Po­lice Ac­count­abil­ity’s re­peated fail­ure to meet the 60-day dead­line to re­lease video, au­dio and doc­u­ments re­lated to in­ci­dents in­volv­ing of­fi­cers’ use of force, the agency’s top of­fi­cial con­ceded Thurs­day that the agency has “faced chal­lenges in the re­lease of video ma­te­rial.”

Dur­ing the monthly Chicago Po­lice Board meeting, COPA Chief Ad­min­is­tra­tor Syd­ney Roberts claimed her agency is “over­com­ing” the is­sues out­lined in Tues­day’s re­port by Deb­o­rah Witzburg, the city’s newly ap­pointed deputy in­spec­tor gen­eral for public safety. Af­ter re­view­ing 122 cases over a three­year pe­riod, Witzburg found 33 in­stances where the 60-day pol­icy was vi­o­lated.

But Roberts also sought to clar­ify some of the find­ings of Witzburg’s re­port and in­sisted that “COPA has never in­ten­tion­ally with­held the re­lease of a man­dated trans­parency ma­te­rial.”

Roberts ex­plained that 14 of the cases were de­layed by a sin­gle day. She noted that in some in­stances the videos have been re­leased 60 days af­ter the agency was no­ti­fied of an in­ci­dent in­volv­ing an of­fi­cers’ use of force, not 60 days af­ter it ac­tu­ally hap­pened. “In­ci­dents can oc­cur in the last hour of the night. How­ever, COPA may not re­ceive no­ti­fi­ca­tion from CPD un­til the mid­night hour has elapsed. And thus, the fol­low­ing day,” added Roberts, who said the is­sue “has been cor­rected.”

In 12 other cases, Roberts said the re­lease of video, au­dio and po­lice doc­u­ments was de­layed be­cause COPA needed to first con­firm that “great bod­ily harm oc­curred.”

“In these 12 in­stances, COPA re­leased the trans­parency ma­te­ri­als 60 days af­ter con­firm­ing that the com­plaint was el­i­gi­ble for re­lease,” added Roberts, who said she takes “full re­spon­si­bil­ity” for the de­lays.

She did not dis­cuss the re­main­ing seven cases.

Though Roberts said she has mod­i­fied COPA’s pro­cesses to in­cor­po­rate Witzburg’s rec­om­men­da­tions, she didn’t ad­dress an­other re­cent in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port that found her agency has im­prop­erly ended some in­quiries.

No Po­lice Board mem­bers posed any ques­tions or raised any con­cerns.

 ??  ?? Syd­ney Roberts
Syd­ney Roberts

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