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Saint Serpico vs. the NYPD

Knapper! Good ethics, movie-star looks.


It took a “hippie cop” to bust down the NYPD’s blue wall. Shaggy dog Frank Serpico didn’t just blow the whistle on kickbacks and payoffs in New York’s grimier decades, he wrote the damn book—feeding the Times the front-page exposé that gave us the Knapp Commission. And made him few blue friends. During a routine 1971 bust, Serpico was left unprotected and shot in the face—an attack that his many hagiographers took to be a bungled assassination attempt. Serpico wanted to be a saint—a monk, anyway. He retired, moved to Europe, bought a farm, crisscrossed the U.S. in a camper, then built himself a one-room cabin in the Hudson Valley. “This is my life now,” he told the Times in 2010. “The woods, nature, solitude.”

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