Frank Serpico, the former police officer immortalized in the 1973 Al Pacino police drama, says the police are still just as corrupt as they were when he was on the force. Serpico was shot in the face in 1971 as an attempt by corrupt police officers in New York City to silence him.
In a candid interview Serpico gave to politico.com, he said he is “still deaf in one ear and I walk with a limp and I carry fragments of the bullet near my brain. I am also, all these years later, still persona non grata in the NYPD… “I still get hate mail from active and retired police officers. A couple of years ago after the death of David Durk — the police officer who was one of my few allies inside the department in my efforts to expose graft — the Internet message board “NYPD Rant” featured some choice messages directed at me.”
Serpico goes on to discuss the “Blue Wall of Silence” that is still alive and well in police departments across the country. “Whistleblowers in police departments — or as I like to call them, ‘lamp lighters,’ after Paul Revere — are still turned into permanent pariahs,” Serpico said. “The complaint I continue to hear is that when they try to bring injustice to light they are told by government officials: ‘We can’t afford a scandal; it would undermine public confidence in our police.’ That confidence, I dare say, is already seriously undermined.”
Serpico also tackles the very hot topic of police violence, claiming the violence may be worse these days than it was in 1971. “Today,” Serpico said, “the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully.
You can read the entire Frank Serpico article at politico.com.
[photo credit: D_MacLeod]