A former New York police officer and anti-corruption fighter, about whom a Hollywood film was made, was awarded half a century later by the city authorities.
85-year-old Frank Serpico, a former New York policeman who gained national fame after testifying about large-scale corruption in the city’s police, was awarded a personalized medal and a diploma recognizing his merits half a century later.
In December 1971, Serpico testified to the commission appointed by Mayor John Lindsay to investigate corruption in the New York police, violating the so-called “wall of silence” common among police officers: the practice of mutual support, when police officers who got into an uncomfortable situation due to misconduct, informally supported each other, refused to testify against fellow professionals, etc.
Filmed in 1973, the movie “Serpico,” where the role of Frank was played by the then famous Al Pacino, overnight made a policeman, who also received a serious injury in the line of duty, a celebrity. The story of exposing corruption in the NYPD, taken as a basis by the authors of the film, was also described in the book by Peter Maas.
In an interview given to the Daily News in December, Serpico said that then, in the 70s, he told the truth at the hearings, and “every word came from the heart.” Frank added that the medal, which he was awarded in 1972, was not accompanied by a solemn ceremony and the traditional presentation of an accompanying certificate – his colleagues and superiors reacted so ambivalently to his revealing actions.
However, the current mayor of New York, Eric Adams – himself a former policeman – noted that Serpico’s bravery “inspired me to pursue a career in law enforcement myself.” “Frank, we’ll make sure you get your medal,” the mayor said.
Due to his injury, Frank Serpico had to resign from the ranks of the police, but all these years he continued to contribute to the fight against corruption and supported fellow citizens who, like him, defended the ideals of honesty and legality. So, in 2017, Serpico supported the protest of NFL star Colin Kaepernick, who started a protest movement against racism in American football.