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The Knapp Commission and NYPD Corruption

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Michael Armstrong describes the1970-72 Knapp Commission investigation into police corruption, prompted by the New York Times' report on whistleblower cop Frank Serpico. In They Wished They Were Honest he examines how the commission affected the NYPD's public image, what leads to police corruption, and the toll it takes on society.  

Guests:

Michael Armstrong

Comments [8]

jackstraw from new york, ny 10033

Those we,re much different times- filled with racial tension,Vietnam protests and a underlining class warfare that constantly made it feel like the lid on our city was going to boil over.
The NYpd of today still has a good deal of corruption. The "Blue Wall"-like the old oath of "omerta" -is the strongest tool these guys have to keep out of jail and off the front page.
Durk and Serpico wouldn't have it too much easier today, although the police brass, and Bloomberg himself would like us to believe different.
The stop & frisk program ,which in my opinion, is just a legal way to harass and detain many people who live in the communities that were being "shook down" 40 yrs ago. To say that the program is a necessary and effective weapons in keeping guns off the street is a load of police propaganda.
In 1970-1973, I was living and working on the streets of the lower east side. I saw more then my share of crime, and more than my share of injustice. Now in 2013, I'm pretty far removed from those streets, but the bottom line remains as it always was- -easy money. The average pay for a cop in the mid 60,s was something like 150 bucks every 2 weeks. Taking a 5 or a 10 for simple favor doesn't seem like a big deal. Put into perspective, today's cops would have to be "on the pad" for 100x that, for just the favor of looking the other way
I havent read Armstrong book yet, but Im finishing up T.J English,s book "The Savage City" which chronicles the actions and behaviors of Phillips and others during these turbulent times .
Armstrong , the author of "They wished they were honest" was a 31 yr old naive attorney when he was appointed chief counsel of the Knapp Commission. He got a fast lesson in the ways of the world not just the NYPD- -
We who remember ,can only hope & pray that the ways of the NYPD have really changed. Its always been about easy money- supply and demand. The have,s and the have nots. Maybe things are really different now, or maybe there are more sophisticated ways to continue the same old behaviors under the radar & behind the blue wall

May. 25 2013 07:46 AM
tom LI

To Elle, et al..."honesty" is relative. Letting crime go by, especially when one is in Law enforcement is not honest in my book.

All these Honest Uncles/Brothers/Fathers, etc out there...its the same mentality as the Parent who says, "Not my kid!"

May. 30 2012 06:39 PM

How about ticket quotas???

I had a cop tell me point blank, "Today is seatbelt ticket day, I have a quota to write "only seatbelt tickets today." This while I was removing my seatbelt as I was trying to park exactly where their cop was standing!!!

When I went to court, I told the judge what the cop said and IMMEDIATELY, a cop waiting to testify in his own BS cases (not the courtroom cop), told me in a loud voice that I needed to move along...

When I asked the cop if he was a party to my case, the judge told him to shut up.

It didn't keep the judge declaring me guilty!!

TOTAL KORRUPT® BS!!!

May. 30 2012 01:56 PM
oscar from ny

Didnt rommney say that america should be the police of the world?...smh

May. 30 2012 01:51 PM
Peter B from New City, NY

Could Mr. Armstrong talk about the role played by David Durk, who rarely gets credit for exposing police corruption, but - to my understanding - was crucial in his support for Frank Serpico and, indeed, for many other NYPD whistleblowers in years since?

May. 30 2012 01:48 PM
Elle from Brooklyn

I meant "Yet, he was disgusted by Serpico"

May. 30 2012 01:36 PM
Elle from Brooklyn

My uncle was also an honest cop. Because of this, he would have nothing to do with the rest of the department, and they would have nothing to do with him. Yet, he was disgusted by Serpico and thought he should have minded his own business. I suspect that a lot of cops, even the honest ones, felt that way. Maybe they still do.

May. 30 2012 01:34 PM
Elle from Brooklyn

My uncle was also an honest cop. Because of this, he would have nothing to do with the rest of the department, and they would have nothing to do with him. Yes, he was disgusted by Serpico and thought he should have minded his own business. I suspect that a lot of cops, even the honest ones, felt that way. Maybe they still do.

May. 30 2012 01:31 PM

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