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Frank Serpico

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Frank Serpico

Frank Serpico (born April 14, 1936) is a former police officer from New York City, now living in Chatham, New York.

Born in Brooklyn, Serpico was the youngest child of Italian immigrants. He was commissioned as a patrolman for the New York City Police Department on March 5, 1960. He was first assigned to patrol in the 81st precinct, later he was assigned to work plain clothes. There, he discovered widespread corruption. After numerous failed attempts to report this corruption within the established police and governmental framework, he finally went to the New York Times, which published an exposť.

In 1970, Serpico went public on police corruption, speaking of bribery and kickbacks. Partially in response to this, New York City Mayor John Lindsay established the Knapp Commission to investigate the assertions. Serpico received numerous death threats, having testified against a former partner.

During a drug bust on February 3, 1971, Serpico was shot point blank in the face. It is believed that his fellow officers were trying to silence him by setting him up to be shot, and then not calling for help. Serpico survived and continued to testify for the Knapp Commission.

Serpico, a biography by Peter Maas, sold over 3 million copies. It was adapted for the screenplay of a 1973 film of the same name, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Al Pacino in the title role.

Frank Serpico retired from the NYPD in 1972. He still speaks out on police corruption and brutality.

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