University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The reason I chose Serpico is because I thought this book would talk about a cop trying to do the right thing, which was to change the crooked system that allowed corruption. This non-fiction talks about the criminality that takes place in this book. For example Serpico was plainclothesmen which was patrolmen working out of uniform on special assignments like narcotics, prostitution, and gambling, so it was a lot of opportunities and temptation for graft to occur. This book proves the point that people in power always abuses it because the plainclothesmen were just out to get a profit from illegal activities that you were hired to prevent. The topic this book expounds on is about Brooklyn born, Italian cop with long hair, scruffy beard and a taste for opera and ballet music, name Frank Serpico. He was a man that couldn’t be hushed nor brought with felonious money, so he decided to change this nefarious system called the police force, that enable the law enforcement to flourish off of bribery, graft, and comprise. After Serpico made this decision to try and change the fraud happening in law enforcement, he had gained a lot of enemies rather than allies due to the reputation he garnered. For example during a drug raid his fellow partner was reluctant to come to his aid, so he was shot in the face. From then on, Serpico was life was put into danger by his fellow colleagues. Police Officers were baffled and confused on why Serpico broke an unwritten code that meant that cops can’t turn in other cops.
Apparently Serpico didn’t care about that code because his main concentration was advancing to detective rank and being a good example of cop, so his peers can learn from it. Police Corruption is the abuse of police authority for the gain. The connection it has to the criminal law is corruption undermines the rule of law, good governance, tarnishes the public image of the law enforcement, protects criminal activity like drug dealing or prostitution, and soon forfeits the community trust in various institutions. The reason why police corruption is so easily to get involve in is because ineffectual laws prevailing moral values promote corruption because they provide criminal organizations with a financial curiosity in damaging law enforcement. I believe the only way to fight police corruption is to wrestle with the decriminalization issue, which involves removing the criminal label giving to victimless crimes by regulating them and preventing them. It’s very hard to prosecute a police officer for corruptions because most prosecutors think why “bite the hand that feeds you.” Serpico didn’t care about that idea because he just wanted to do the right thing no matter what it took or cost which was almost his life.
Frank Serpico was a heroic man that gambled with his life just to stop corruption that was going on in the New York’s police department. Serpico went through a lot of distrust and harassment from his various police officers just to call attention to this ceaseless problem. Then Serpico decided to take drastic measures by taking his story to New York Times editors. This act forced Mayor Lindsay to appoint a special, discrete commission to investigate these Serpico allegations. I admired Serpico for putting up with death threats from several police officers and people that were setting him up like in that drug raid. It took Serpico 5 years for him to bring this corruption to the public’s attention. Through those 5 years Serpico had faced many death threats and vexation that prevented him from achieving his goal of becoming a detective. The only thing that Serpico did that I found was obnoxious, was when he was basically envious of William Phillip who was undercover agent for the Knapp Commission and he really was doing the same thing Serpico was doing over the years.
The definition of a hero is Frank Serpico because of the heroic deed he had attained, that took a great deal of courage and dedication. Most police officers wouldn’t have the guts and determination to be able to endure the hardship Serpico had went through in order to end the corruption in the New York Police department. Frank Serpico was remembered for that significant feat he accomplished because most police officers had just fallen in the arms of unscrupulous and Serpico was the first officer to not fall into misconduct while faced with many tempting opportunities as a plainclothesmen. Why couldn’t there be more police officers like Frank Serpico? Why did police officers allow that criminality to happen or why did police officers partake in that criminality? At least Frank Serpico had made a huge step into the right direction of transformation. The officers in the New York Police department had just gone with the flow before Serpico came around, as if corruption was a part of their job. If Frank Serpico didn’t speak up about the corruption, would it have continued to occur as if nothing was illicit? I’m glad that I chose this book because it taught me that one person can have a huge impact on an issue that he or she feels strongly about. I thought Serpico would have become a replica of those crooked cops. Who would of thought Serpico would be the police officer to deny graft, bribery and other criminal benefits? That’s the most appealing information because who would chose justice over money? Apparently Frank Serpico thought that corruption wasn’t going to get him to a detective rank. He believed the only way was to endeavor. A quote from the book was “the problem is that the atmosphere doesn’t yet exist in which an honest police officer can act without fear of ridicule or reprisal from fellow officers.” This quote shows that Serpico had an excellent idea on how to prevent what he endure for 5 interminable years. No one shouldn’t have to feel like they under that much pressure when bringing about information regarding a system that allowed corruption to flow like a pipe. The worst thing about the trial was that the executive officers were not there, so the real issue of corruption wouldn’t be solved. While feeling so much pressure, Serpico still had to worry about his life being in danger because he testifies.
A person shouldn’t have to go thru different predicaments just to serve justice and be an example to the police force. Even though police officers got fired and the commissioner got replaced, I still don’t think that was equivalent to the price Serpico partially paid which was his life. The length it took for Serpico allegations to get some public attention was the least appealing because I didn’t understand why no one understood the severity of fraudulence in the New York Police department. That’s how you can tell that Serpico was very determined to be different and stand by his morals, because it took 5 years before justice could be served in a trial. I don’t think you can have that much patience unless you were very dedicated to the issue at hand. This book was a good choice because I thought after all those death threats and fatal gun wound in his head that nearly cost him his life, Serpico would just go along with the corruption. Even after the trial during Serpico sick leave and recovery from his head wound, he was still debating on his future as a cop. I wonder was the Medal of Honor he received was the real reason why he had retired? Serpico really had a huge amount of ambition towards being a detective, so what happened? In the book Serpico saids “sensing the underlying hatred of police establishment toward him after what he had done,” to me this meant that Serpico was worried about how the police force would feel if he had came back after the critical actions he done that had repercussions.