State Watch

NYPD honors Frank Serpico 50 years after blowing whistle on department corruption

Associated Press

The New York Police Department (NYPD) on Thursday formally recognized the service of former undercover detective Frank Serpico, who testified about corruption within the department over 50 years ago. 

Serpico, 85, received an official certificate and medal of honor in the mail, which he shared photos of in a tweet. Serpico thanked New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D), ACLU New York Legal Director Christopher Dunn, attorney Peter Gleason and New York Daily News reporter Larry McShane “for their efforts in facilitating my receipt of this long overdue honor awarded to me by the NYPD over 50 years ago.”

Then Mayor-elect Adams, a former NYPD officer, tweeted in December that he planned to recognize Serpico’s work once he was inaugurated on Jan. 1, saying that Serpico’s “bravery inspired [his] law enforcement career.” 

Serpico previously received a medal for his work in 1972, though it was handed to him over a countertop without the certificate or any formal recognition, according to the New York Daily News

The former detective testified in Dec. 1971 to a panel investigating police corruption, shattering the “blue wall of silence,” an informal code under which officers sometimes decline to testify against or report on their colleagues, The Associated Press reported

Serpico was shot in the face during a drug arrest in Brooklyn months before his testimony. He has claimed that the other police officers present never made a call for an “officer down,” the AP reported. 

Serpico continued to be an outspoken advocate against police corruption throughout the years. In a 2020 editorial for The Hill, he wrote in support of protections for police whistleblowers.

He was portrayed by Al Pacino in the 1973 movie “Serpico,” about his testimony against the NYPD.  

Tags Frank Serpico New York Police Department NYPD Police corruption Whistleblower
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