Serpico sets the record straight: Finale

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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


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. 


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, by Frank Serpico
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 we cannot see
And those that are afar
If we only took the time to look
We’d see the things that are