Lest we forget, Serpico was not the sole good police officer in the force in the 1960s, but he was the only cop with the courage to stand up and expose the culture of corruption that so polluted the department that those who were honest were silenced—or, as in Serpico’s case, persecuted by their peers and superiors—for having the audacity to uphold their duty to protect and serve the public.
Is corruption as widespread today in the Legislature as it once was in the NYPD? That question remains to be answered—and must be addressed thoroughly and immediately. What is clear, however, is that the problems in Albany are far worse than a few bad apples, despite what many members would like us to believe.
So where is the Serpico of the state Legislature?
If there are so many decent, upright members of the Legislature—as representatives of both houses insist—why is it not that one of them has the guts to step forward and breach the wall of silence that shields their unsavory colleagues from accountability and denies their victims—all of us—justice?
It has often been remarked, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Right now, anyone who claims to be a reformer in Albany is just blowing smoke. Unless these supposedly virtuous men and women step up and take bold and brave action to root out the epidemic in their midst, they must be held as responsible for its ills as anyone.
Officer Serpico risked his career and life—evidenced by the bullet he still has lodged in his face four decades later—because of his deep and abiding morality, an innate conviction that what is right transcends what is expedient.
Is there no one in the Legislature who will put the interests of the people before his or her own? Out of the 212 members of the Senate and the Assembly, is there not a single hero?
Thanks to his valor, the name Serpico has become synonymous with honest cop. Who in Albany has the backbone to earn the title of honest politician?
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