If you are a young police officer, in one of the most crime ridden burrows of New York, it probably is not a good idea to stand out like a sore thumb. And in Frank Serpico’s case, he was definitely sticking out with his unorthodox way of doing things, and un unwavering sense of ethical principle of “doing the right thing”. Before he was a police officer, he was a Youth Social Worker, which lends some background understanding of his innate ideals of doing good. He recalls one of the most profound influences of his life was watching his father, an Italian-immigrant cobbler in Brooklyn, stood up to a cop who never paid for his shoeshines.  His father told Frank to “Never run when you are right.”
Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers leaker, who idolize Frank, summarizes; “Serpico is the godfather of whistleblowers.”
But what made Frank Serpico almost become a cult-like hero? Maybe, his lawyer sums it best about what Frank stood for: “If you want an ethical society, you have to work at it all the time. The most important and hardest place to have it, is among your enforcers.” And Frank Serpico knew exactly what a police officer in a free society out to be.
Maybe Francisco Vincent Serpico is cut from a different breed. Maybe he just thinks he is the righteous second-coming. Or maybe he is just a decent man trying to do good. There is precedence however, and in many cases, how we behave is based on our individual experiences in life, starting when we were young, how we were treated by our parents and all the adults around us, and, more importantly, what we see around us, in our environment, as we grow. For Frank, who comes from a family of coal miners, and in which his earliest memory is a story told by his father of how his grandfather was stabbed and robbed right after they got paid his monthly wage. This memory, according to Frank (D’Ambrosio, 2017), is one of the major influences in him becoming a police officer. He later confided that, as a young kid, he imagined “I’ll catch that guy someday.”  The path was set when, as his father’s assistant in the family shoeshine business, he experienced the first corrupt cop. 
For a self-professed “righteous cop”, Frank’s deems that the role and responsibility of the police officer is simple: morals and ethics cannot be compromised. Is that absolutism? Absolutely. Is it extreme? Absolutely not. If you start qualifying and dissecting what is to be labeled ethical and moral against what is not, you are heading down a very slippery slope – and more than likely, you will not be able to climb out of once you start justifying your behavior. People will argue that morals and ethics are relative to the given situation. I say they are full of it. What most people are missing the point on is that even righteous people who claim absolutism on ethical and moral behavior are also subject to failing it. The difference is that these people do not sugar coat their transgression, nor justify their actions. That’s the difference between an amoral person and one who is a good human being who is working hard to do right, but at times makes mistakes. It is easy to spot the difference between the two. In Serpico’s case, if we apply the rules of Absolutism in ethics and moral behavior, when he saw another cop accepting or demanding payment from civilians, he should have arrested the police officer for it is a crime to do so. But he did not. He looked away and minded his own business. Yes, he did not accept the payment himself, but he also did not arrest the corrupt cop, which he had a professional duty to do so. We arrest regular people for bribery and extortion. Why don’t we not do that to police officers who are actually caught in the act? That’s double-standard – even for Frank Serpico. Personally, I feel Frank Serpico was a decent human being. But he was also looking out for himself. He wanted to play both sides of the game, but ensuring he comes out unscathed when the scuffles settle. That is why he reported the activities to the higher ups.
The Bad Guys
There are many types of bad guys. But they all have one thing in common, and that is they all have decided it is okay to cross the ethical and moral line. This is not the same as a cop who let a homeless person who stole food in a 7-eleven go, or a prosecutor who refuses to charge a woman who stabbed a man who was trying to assault her. NO. The bad people we are talking about here are those who knowingly, with sound mind and sound disposition, commit unethical and immoral acts. From the person who mugs you in a street corner, to the politician who knowingly accepts blood money from special interest groups and lobbyists for big corporations. You need to realize that distinction. Nowadays, we get convoluted about fake news and socialism , two entirely different entities which have been lumped together in an effort to confuse people, and so, when these public servants – police officers and voter-elected government officials – commit unethical and immoral acts, they have learned to justify or deflect their despicable behavior with fake news and, in extreme situations, call you a socialist or a liberal. That is the modus operandi of the bad people these days.
Just because you are taking money from the bad people you arrested – does not mean you are doing good moral public service. It is the same as when we invade a country and then loot and usurp their resources and commerce. Both are unethical and immoral at best, crimes of the highest order at worst. You are stealing. Period. And thievery, no matter the consequence or reasoning, is still a crime. 
You don’t think you are getting paid enough? Go get another job. You think it is not fair that you are working your butt off, doing dangerous and highly stressful conduct, and yet getting paid a low wage? Go get another job. Nobody is telling you to stay.
It is an absolute disgrace that our elected officials are allowed to stay on their job when they are caught red-handed, and police officers do not get punished when they are caught on video abusing detainees or murdering people. 
No amount of hard work or stress on the job justifies that.

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