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Complaint filed against city of Binghamton and police department

BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — A 15 year veteran of the Binghamton Police Department says he was denied a promotion to detective, due to what he says is racial bias and discrimination.

In a complaint filed with the State Division of Human Rights, officer Christopher Hamlett, who is African American, alleges a supervisor blocked his promotion, “solely on his racial status.”

12 News is not naming the supervisor at the center of the complaint at this time, because the complaint has not yet been closed and it not yet public record.

The complaint also alleges Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski “failed to intervene and/or override (the supervisor’s) racially driven efforts to block officer Hamlett’s promotion.”

It goes on to say, BPD employs about 137 officers, with fewer than 10 being minorities, and just four African Americans.

Officer Hamlett’s attorney, John Valentino, says filing this complaint was a last resort saying in a statement, “It was very hard for Officer Hamlett to file this complaint. He only wants to be judged by his performance and not the color of skin […] But when he was passed over for promotion in favor of less experienced candidates and he learned from several credible sources about (the supervisor’s) discriminatory attitudes toward black people, he decided to come forward with this complaint.”

The city of Binghamton confirms it is aware of the allegations and has even launched its own investigation into the claims of racial discrimination.

The city legal department tells 12 News the city usually doesn’t comment on personnel matter but says, “While the City does not comment on pending litigation, the City was surprised to receive the complaint, as the City’s Personnel Office and Corporation Counsel were investigating this matter, had already interviewed nineteen employees, with at least one more interview scheduled, and had not yet issued a finding.  Moreover, the complaint contains numerous allegations not previously presented to the City.  The City denies any racism and will vigorously respond to these allegations.”

Chief Zikuski said he had no comment other than what the city provided.

Annie Flaherty

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