26 January 2010


Yesterday I advocated taking a stand with regard to endangered species. By coincidence, yesterday's NYTimes featured an article about Frank Serpico, who famously took a very different kind of stand -- against rampant police corruption in New York City. This, in spite of repeated threats (and one near-fatal attempt) on his own life by his fellow police officers. Serpico's ethical stand against all odds was famously portrayed in the 1973 film Serpico, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Al Pacino. I highly recommend the article.

Frank Serpico ultimately testified before the Knapp Commission against the systemic corruption within the police department, as well as the threats and intimidation directed against him from all levels, which culminated in his being shot in the face during a drug bust. Three accompanying officers intentionally allowed the shooting to happen before coming to his aid. Following his testimony, Serpico retired from the force and moved to Switzerland for ten years to recuperate from his injuries -- though his PTSD persists to this day. He now lives in upstate New York, where he is writing his memoirs, and occasionally consults with police officers who themselves are conflicted by the corruption within their own departments.

Here is a link to the video included in the Times article, "Watching Serpico with Serpico". Watching him speak, and watching him view and comment on the movie for the first time, you realize that here is the real deal, a genuine human being who speaks with candor, intelligence and integrity. Someone I would like to know, someday.

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