The movie Serpico focuses on Frank Serpico, a police officer also known as “Paco,” who exposes and testifies against rampant police corruption. During a drug arrest, Serpico is shot in the face, but no other officers intervene. Despite his efforts to speak out against corruption with multiple individuals, society abandons Serpico as it becomes clear that his actions have made no real impact.
Serpico, a good cop, exemplified how to treat people with respect and kindness. For instance, when he witnessed an officer assaulting a young male, he intervened by taking the young boy across the street for a cup of coffee. Serpico engaged in a friendly conversation to gather necessary information about the crime the boy committed, rather than resorting to violence. His ultimate goal was to serve and protect others without hesitation. Unfortunately, Serpico’s colleagues did not exhibit similar positive and ethical behavior; they engaged in corruption by accepting bribes from criminals.
Overall, the police in the film employed their own power to commit crimes, while Frank Serpico made diligent efforts to combat police corruption and serve his community. The objectives of policing include timely crime prevention, deterrence of potential issues (e.g., a police officer monitoring speed limits on highways encourages slower driving to prevent accidents), securing areas to reduce high-risk activities (such as gang violence, prostitution, and gambling) and create safer environments, providing assistance with citizens’ problems (even if it’s just removing an individual behaving inappropriately or managing traffic), and fostering a sense of safety for individuals and businesses in their daily lives. I believe that Serpico alone achieved these goals because of his genuine desire to do what is right, even without much support, as he took action against police corruption.
The Police Subculture encompasses the norms, values, rules, and lifestyles that define those in law enforcement. Many officers have acquiesced to the existence of corruption within the police department, where engagement with drug dealers and gambling has become part of this subculture. This movie vividly portrays the police subculture during a drug bust scene, where Serpico is shot in the face. His fellow officers failed to take action, and it was only when a neighbor called emergency services that help arrived.
Corruption is a dishonest act that can involve criminal activity and facilitate organized crimes. Two scenes in the Film Serpico depict corrupt officers engaging in drug dealing to make extra money. In another scene, an officer provides free parking to a cafe worker in exchange for free breakfast, showcasing the acceptance of small bribes by officers, referred to as grass eaters. Another term for dishonest officers is meat eaters, who abuse their power, often with aggression.
The movie portrays a distinction between reactive policing, where the police only respond to calls, and proactive policing, which involves actively searching for crimes. Serpico embodies the concept of proactive policing. In one scene, Serpico is dressed and standing in a train station when he notices a man climbing through a window. Finding this behavior suspicious, he chases after the man and successfully apprehends him. However, during this incident, the reactive police officers are called to the scene but arrive after Serpico has already caught the perpetrator.
To conclude, despite Serpico’s numerous attempts to testify, the extent of police corruption depicted in the film was not as severe. Nonetheless, this movie successfully captivated my interest by illustrating realistic situations present in modern-day police forces. Serpico simply sought to serve as an upright police officer. While some officers accepted bribes from criminals, Serpico remained dedicated to serving his community faithfully. Ultimately, police corruption not only jeopardizes the lives of others but also contributes to the manifestation of violent behavior.