In the Film " SERPICO" (1973)   1. During Serpico’s time, describe the way NYPD was. 2. Did anyone recognize the issues on NYPD?  How were issues handled?   3. What was management...

In the Film " SERPICO" (1973)

 

1. During Serpico’s time, describe the way NYPD was.

2. Did anyone recognize the issues on NYPD?  How were issues handled?
 
3. What was management on NYPD like?
 
4. How was Serpico treated:1. By his peers2. By management? 
 
5. How should NYPD have changed since then?
 
 

1 Answer

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teachersage | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

The movie Serpico is about the corruption in the NYPD. The police officers take bribes and engage in excessive violence but Serpico refuses to join in. When the other officers realize that Serpico won't engage in corruption, they shun him and try to put him in harm's way. They also shun him because he has long hair and looks like a hippie (he does this to help him in his undercover work) and because they think he is gay when they see him reading a book about dancer Isadora Duncan. So it is safe to say that, as depicted in the movie, the police force at that time is conservative, corrupt and homophobic. Because of the problems with other police officers, Serpico gets himself transferred to another precinct in the Bronx. There he encounters more bribery and corruption. To stay safe, he accepts his share of the pay-off money but gives it to a friend to hold.

Some others officers recognize the issues, such as Serpico's boss McClain, who finally takes Serpico's complaints about corruption to Delaney, the police commissioner. Outside of the force, the mayor's aide, Berman, also wants to investigate when he hears about the corruption. 

However, Delaney, who represents the management, and the mayor, who sets the tone for what goes on in the city, ignore the complaints, preferring to look the other way and allow business as usual. The issues are swept under the carpet. Serpico then determines that the police force is corrupt from top to bottom. 

Serpico, as mentioned before, is shunned by most of his fellow police officers and treated as an oddity for his unusual ways and his hatred of the corruption in the force. At the end, other police officers let him go first into a drug bust, while they hang back. Without backup, he is shot in the face and almost killed. So it is clear that his fellow officers will go to the length of setting him up to be killed rather than risk having him expose their corrupt practices.

Management also fails to support him, being completely unwilling to confront the corruption in their ranks. When they do finally feel pressured into acting, they decide investigations should be internal, which is less than useless as the police force is not going to condemn itself. It is only when The New York Times gets into the act and exposes the corruption that there is any hope of change. 

The NYPD has apparently not changed too much, as The New York Times reported just a year ago (June 20, 2016) on corruption in an article called "3 NYPD Commanders Are Arrested in Vast Corruption Case."