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Officers Say Culture of Retaliation Still Exists in NYPD

Monday, June 25, 2012

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

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Comments [2]

Frank serpico from new york

Shamefully enough, it seams Mr Armstrong himself has become part and parcel of that Blue Wall.
I support, admire and respect the officers that come forward in an effort to make the policeman's
and the communities lot a happier one at great peril to their personal lives and profession.
They truly deserve the title of New York's Finest and the Best Detectives in the world.
They are my solace and reward. If only the administration would acknowledge, reward and follow their examples, it would be a safer and more civil society for all concerned.

Jun. 26 2012 02:57 PM
James E. Griffin

If you read the complete article in the New York Times it reads that my squad mishandled the case. I want to correct this to inform the readers that one detective on my team mishandled the case....and got away with it. My union delegate is the individual who tried to frame me. While the Bronx District Attorney's Office appears to be making way as far as the blue wall of silence is concerned, I want to let you know that it was that same office that did not call me to testify on a homicide case in which they lost and a confessed murderer was set free to walk our streets. Since I was present when the defendant was read Miranda Warnings and made a full confession I would think that I would be a very important witness to have testified I've contacted the Bronx District Attorney to conduct an investigation.

Jun. 25 2012 10:59 AM

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