“Serpico” Ethical Issues
Serpico is about a New York police officer, Frank Serpico, or “Paco”, who got shot in the face for reporting police corruption in the New York Police Department (NYPD). Fellow officers did not help him when he was wounded. This movie portrayed real life events and factors that go on in our police forces today. There are a lot of ethical issues that go on in this movie. Men are beaten, punished, lied to, and deceived by police officers. Serpico testified against all police corruption and was left derelict in a crucial time of need.
Officers today need to work together in a positive and ethical way in order to get their job done the right way. This film really grabbed my interest by depicting real life situations and corruption in today’s police forces. Frank Serpico was an honest cop who just wanted to do his job with no questions; to protect and to serve. Officers of the NYPD were accepting bribes from criminals and possibly selling drugs to make extra money. Police corruption is abuse of public office for personal benefits. If police are corrupt, then they are not protecting or serving the public as necessary.
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Officers allow these sorts of violence and drug behavior to continue just so they can earn an extra dollar or two. The ethical issues involved in this film include police acts of violence on criminals, accepting bribes, and selling drugs to make extra money. The police are using their own source of power to commit crimes and allowing acts of violence to occur so they can make money or avoid getting hurt related to criminal activity. One of Serpico’s colleagues beat a man that was arrested in order to try to get information on where his other friends might have gone.
Serpico, being the kind officer he is, took that young male across the street for a cup of coffee. Frank treated the criminal like a normal human being, talked to him, and bought him coffee in order to retrieve the vital information. Paco was very ethical about the way he did things in the force and was a great asset to the NYPD. Serpico’s colleagues also begged him for an arrest because their weapon was discharged during the attempt and did not want to do paper work as to the reason why. Frank was very ethical in his work and allowed his fellow officers to have the arrest.
It is very unethical for police officers to receive cash bribes and sell drugs in order to make extra money. Selling drugs and receiving bribes is certainly against the law and any officer who engages in such activity is not ethical. Frank Serpico went to his captain and the New York mayor about this corruption, but they did not do anything about it. It was also very unethical of Serpico’s partners to abandon him when he needed help and then got shot. These issues were finally resolved when Frank Serpico reported such activities to the press and it made front page in New York Times.
The mayor, John Lindsay, was then forced to appoint the Knapp Commission to investigate the truth. Serpico testified against fellow police officers, breaking the “blue code of silence”, which is an unwritten rule among police officers not to report fellow officer wrongdoings, to the Knapp Commission on May 10, 1971. “I hope that police officers in the future will not experience the same frustration and anxiety that I was subjected to for the past five years at the hands of my superiors because of my attempt to report corruption.
We create an atmosphere in which the honest officer fears the dishonest officer, and not the other way around. The problem is that the atmosphere does not yet exist in which honest police officers can act without fear of ridicule or reprisal from fellow officers. ” – Frank Serpico before the Knapp Commission. Unhappy with his testimony, fellow officers Gary Roteman and Arthur Cesare left Frank wounded during a drug bust and refused to call a “10-13”, which is the police code for officer down. Frank Serpico was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery against fighting police corruption.
This movie is very depictive of real life. Officers today still accept bribes and sell drugs. Police corruption today is not nearly as bad as it was when Serpico was serving. All officers should want to be heroic and serve their country in the most effective way possible. If all officers were corrupt, then violence and drug related activity would cease to resist. This would cause public terror and acts of crime to strengthen and allow criminals to bribe their way out of anything just like in the movie. Whistleblowing in the business world today is identified as a bad thing.
Frank Serpico was the exact definition of a whistleblower by reporting illegal activities that went on in the police force. If all people continued to allow unethical and illegal things to happen, then the business world would fall apart and crime would be happening everywhere. The United States was based on freedom and happiness. If police officers of this country allow corruption to happen, that same freedom and happiness is taken away from us. Crimes would increase enormously, people would lose loved ones, and we would not be able to have the self-respect we deserve to credit ourselves with.
With corruption still going on in our society, whistleblowing will certainly be the way to make a huge difference. The handling of police corruption in this film was very effective. I agree with the fact that corruption was being taken seriously as it should be, but not the way it was handled. Serpico, being the good cop he was, should have had all evidence and hard facts from the beginning in order to take down police corruption in the force. Frank should have also not tried to take the situation into his own hands.
Serpico was a good police officer, yet he lacked the support he required. Captain McClain and Mayor Lindsay should have taken charge of this rather than Serpico, because they have more authority and power in the chain of command to get things done the proper and ethical way. The Captain and the Mayor should have not taken this information lightly and could have possibly stopped way more corruption and illegal activity than they did. The mayor should not have had to be forced to appoint the Knapp Commission to investigate the corruption.
Mayor Lindsay should have ordered the investigation before it was leaked to the press. The press telling the public about corruption rather than the police department shows the officer in the NYPD lacked integrity. The press article about corruption was embarrassing to the department and should have been taken care of by them. If the police are corrupt and not trying to stop illegal activity going on within them, then who are they going to stop from committing illegal crimes outside of the force?
Frank Serpico was an honest and brave man. Serpico was willing to risk his life and ignore death threats in order to keep corruption out of the police force. Working mostly alone, Frank faced many ethical challenges and illegal behavior along the way. Paco identified most of these ethical issues and sought justice until each and every one of them was put to a stop. This film was based on a true story and depicted the exact dangers that continue to go on in the police forces or today’s society.
Officers of the law are set to enforce the laws and protect the public. If officers are criminally involved too, then no one is around to stop crime. On June 15, 1972, Frank Serpico resigned from the police force and moved to Europe. He married a woman named Marianne, yet she tragically died seven years later in 1980. He then decided to return to upstate New York where he now resides. Frank Serpico was a man of bravery, courage, and integrity. He continues the fight on police corruption today and serves his country proudly. The fight for justice against corruption is never easy. It never has been and never will be. It exacts a toll on our self, our families, our friends, and especially our children. In the end, I believe, as in my case, the price we pay is well worth holding on to our dignity. ” – Frank Serpico Reference Netflix, Inc. Watch TV Shows & Movies Anytime, Anywhere. Only $7. 99 a Month. Netflix. Netflix, Inc. , n. d. Web. 07 Oct. 2012. <https://signup. netflix. com/>. 2012 A+E Networks. “Frank Serpico Biography. ” Bio. om. A&E Networks Television, 2012. Web. 07 Oct. 2012. <http://www. biography. com/people/frank-serpico-9542108>. Gurusoflaw. com. “Cause And Effects Of Corruption. ” Cause And Effects Of Corruption. Gurusoflaw. com, 2006. Web. 07 Oct. 2012. <http://www. gurusoflaw. com/Criminal-Law/bribery/Cause-And-Effects-Of-Corruption. html>. Freeinfosociety. com. “Articles/Biographies/Other/Serpico, Frank. ” Serpico, Frank. N. p. , 2012. Web. 07 Oct. 2012. <http://www. freeinfosociety. com/article. php? id=402>.