Forty years after infamous NYPD whistle-blower Frank Serpico broke through the so-called blue wall of silence, three former detectives and one current one who filed suit against the NYPD claims the culture of retaliation for reporting corruption still exists.
Former Detective James E. Griffin found “rat” written on his locker within a month of reporting a fellow officer to Internal Affairs, and many officers refused to make eye contact and moved their desks to sit farther from him, according to the New York Times.
"After it came to light that I called Internal Affairs, I was completely ignored at work, people wrote rat on my locker, amongst many other things," Griffin told WNYC.
Former Detective Jeffrey McAvoy, who reported a lieutenant he suspected of stealing money from a drug dealer, said when he joined the Bronx gang squad, his sergeant said he had a reputation of reporting “everything to the IAB,” the paper reported, citing the lawsuit.
When WNYC caught up with Serpico last fall, the 75-year old made famous by a Sidney Lumet’s biopic said he still believes corruption in the department is rampant.
“In my time no, not every policeman was corrupt,” he told WNYC. “But those that were corrupt were the ones that ran the show. And that’s the way it works today.”
At the time, Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the department, said Serpico’s remarks show “ignorance born out of being away for 40 years.”
"We have almost as many people involved in fighting corruption and prosecuting police officers internally … as we have assigned to counter terrorism, about a 1,000 people,” Browne said. “Far, far different from when Frank Serpico was a police officer.”
Last month, the chief counsel for a group tasked with eradicating corruption in the NYPD during the 1970s said the so-called blue wall of silence is a fabrication.
“The Blue Wall of Silence we found to be something of a myth,” Michael Armstrong, who ran day-to-day operations for an anti-police corruption unit, told WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show last month. “It turns out we had a total of six cops that we caught, and five of them talked.”
Armstrong headed the Knapp Commission, a body formed by Mayor John Lindsay after Serpico exposed corruption within the department.
Annmarie Fertoli contributed reporting