Serpico sets the record straight: FinaleBaltimore Post-Examiner

Serpico sets the record straight: Finale

Editor’s Note: Read the complete series on Frank Serpico under Special Reports.

I’ll punch you out right here

Look this is where we are today. The other day I just came out of the dentist, my mouth was all numb. I went to my favorite café up here in the woods. The parking lot was full. I was waiting for somebody to back out. A car backs out, I’m about to pull in and a car comes right next to me and pulls into the space. So, I get out and said to the guy, do you have special privileges. I said, I’m an eighty-one-year-old senior citizen. He said, I’m eighty-four. So, I said to him, I don’t give a shit, it doesn’t entitle you to take another man’s space.

Now, the next car, there’s another car ready to get out. The guy had his back-door open. I didn’t see he had a kid in there. He was putting in the toddler seat, and he said, don’t curse in front of my kid. I said excuse me, what are you getting involved in this for. He cups his fist Doug, and he shouts, ‘I’ll punch you out right here.’  I said, then go ahead.  A clerk from the store comes out and said come on, and sides with the guy. He said well you cursed. I said what about him threatening to punch out an old man in front of his kid?

I must say that a few weeks later the guy came up to me and apologized. We shook hands.

So that’s where you’re at today. Everybody has gotten so proper, that violence is in. So that’s why I say I don’t use curse words, if I can, even though they show your emotion. That’s where we are today.

Frank Serpico today

Epilogue

I don’t hold humanity in very high regards.

I got invited to speak at the Tribeca Film Festival. I said … I’m eighty-one years old. I’ve been blessed, I’ve been fighting corruption all my life and I’ve gotten everything I have ever needed, but the only thing I ever wanted and never got was justice.

I’m telling you Doug, that’s something you will never get in this country.

Sacco and Vanzetti never got justice. The Native Americans never got justice. African-Americans never got justice. The people who died in concentration camps never got justice. The Palestinians will never get justice. 

Why? 

Because man is the lowest of God’s creatures, when he could have been the best. He sold out, he sold his soul. 

I want to leave a legacy that children can look at and learn from. Who you really want to reach are children not cops. It’s already too late for adults.

That’s all I have to say.

Author’s comments

It takes a very special person to do what Frank Serpico did.

Frank’s last name is now used as a word to describe any honest cop who exposes police corruption and misconduct. That is an honorable legacy most of us could only hope to achieve.

Other police officers have since followed in his footsteps and others will continue to do so in the future because there are honest cops out there who will reject taking a backseat to cowardice and complicity.

If we are to stop police corruption, misconduct and brutality then society also needs to stand up and back those officers who come forward and do the right thing. No cop should ever end up losing their livelihood because they stand up for the oath they swore to uphold.

Forty-five years ago, Frank Serpico wrote, “They made us believe there was a mysterious boogeyman out there who would police the corruption. It’s the responsibility of every man and woman who wears that uniform. Any misdeed by any man or woman in the blue uniform is a reflection not only on the department, but on the individual who witnesses it.”

That statement is as apropos today as it was when Frank wrote that over four decades ago.

We heard from Frank Serpico, the cop. We heard from Frank Serpico, the man. I will leave you with a poem, written by Frank Serpico, the poet.

There Is No Magic.

There is no magic
Except seeing the things that are
Whether gazing at a speck of dust
Or the twinkling of a star.
Things so close that are afar
If we only took the time to look
We’d see the things that are.

 


About the author

Doug Poppa

Doug Poppa is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former law enforcement officer, criminal investigator and private sector security and investigations management professional with 40 years of experience. In 1986 Mr. Poppa was awarded “Criminal Investigator of the Year” by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. He was also re-assigned to the Northern Virginia Regional Narcotics Enforcement Task Force for 18 months. In 1991 and again in 1992 Mr. Poppa’s testimony under oath in court led to the discovery that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense by the prosecutor and sheriff’s office officials during the 1988 trial of a man accused of attempted murder of his wife that led to his conviction. As a result of his testimony the man was ordered released from prison, given a new trial in 1992 and found not guilty. Mr. Poppa became the subject of local and national news media attention as a result of his testimony which led to the demise of his 12-year police career. After losing his job, at the request of the FBI, Mr. Poppa infiltrated in an undercover capacity a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont Chemical fortune heir and his wife in 1992. His stories have been featured on Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and CBS News’ Street Stories with Ed Bradley. Contact the author.
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