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Lawsuit Alleges Racism At Amsterdam Police Department

The City of Amsterdam Police Department
Lucas Willard
The City of Amsterdam Police Department

The mayor of Amsterdam, New York says he and the city police department have no tolerance for racism and hate, as a former Black city officer has sued the department, claiming he was subjected to unfair treatment and racial harassment.

Former APD Officer Alan Drake, who served 12 years in the department, filed suit in May against the Amsterdam Police Department, the past and current chiefs of police, three other officers, and the Amsterdam Police Benevolent Association.

The lawsuit alleges Drake was subjected to racially charged and inappropriate comments from within the department, given inadequate training and passed over for training opportunities, and was coerced and forced into signing a “Last Chance Agreement” based on “trumped up” charges in 2017.

The lawsuit also alleges officers displayed white supremacist symbols like Confederate flags at the city police station and on their personas. A white officer is accused of having a Nazi SS bolt tattoo.

The lawsuit says Drake was terminated in April 2021 after he was suspended in December 2020 for allegedly taking 30 minutes to respond to a personal phone call. Drake is seeking damages and reinstatement.

The lawsuit says Drake brought concerns about his experiences to former Mayor Ann Thane and current Mayor Michael Cinquanti.

WAMC asked Mayor Cinquanti, a Democrat, about the allegations on Friday.

“I have been privy to the events, to the files, etc. So I have checked into everything, into everything. And, as I said, if it existed I would do something about it. And the things that we are doing are to give the public and the Officer Drakes of the world the confidence that it doesn’t exist,” said Cinquanti.

Asked about the alleged Nazi tattoo, Cinquanti acknowledged some of the lawsuit’s claims are disturbing.

“It is very extreme and if I saw that, and was found evidence that that existed, I would be very upset about it and I would do something about it.  I have not seen that evidence. I have not seen any of that exist. And I’m not saying I don’t know because I took office last January and Officer Drake is alleging things that happened before my term, but I’m not tolerant over hate and racism,” said Cinquanti.

Cinquanti said he has "complete confidence" in Chief John Thomas, whom he appointed in 2020. 

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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