Monday, January 25, 2010

Catching up with Frank Serpico

The New York Times has a long profile with former NYC Detective Frank Serpico. Serpico joined the NYPD in 1959. Soon he was disgusted with what he saw as the routine graft and corruption in the department. His internal whistle-blowing was ignored. But he went to famous New York Times reporter David Burnham who put Serpico's charges on the front page,on April 25, 1970. This led to the famous Knapp Commission to investigate police corruption led by attorney and former prosecutor Whitman Knapp who became a prominent Federal judge. Some of the Knapp Commission recommendations were adopted, but police corruption and misconduct was the subject of the Mollen Commission investigations from 1992 to 1994. There is now a permanent Commission to Combat Police Corruption in the New York City government.

Serpico was famously shot in the face in the course of drug raid in 1971, in which his partners, embittered by his corruption-fighting, failed to back him up or get him quick medical attention. He still has bullet fragments in his head.

A book about him was made into a movie starring Al Pacino.

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