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January 4

"The fight for justice against corruption is never easy. It never has been and never will be. It exacts a toll on our self, our families, our friends, and especially our children. In the end, I believe, as in my case, the price we pay is well worth holding on to our dignity. " ~ Frank Serpico

4th January, 1971 - death of "Honest Cop" Frank SerpicoIn 1971, Greenpoint Hospital announced the passing of New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer Frank Serpico. The following day he had been shot in the face during a drugs bust in Brooklyn and in addition to the blood loss shrapnel had entered his brain. Although there was no formal investigation it was rumored that Serpico had actually been brought to the apartment by his colleagues to be murdered.

In the dozen years that he had served on the Force New York had become a gritty urban jungle trapped in a permanent crime wave. Central Park was avoided at night for fear of murders and rapes, and the Subways and Streets were avoided because of muggings (and the subways frequently broke down due to neglect anyway). Within a few years the Son of Sam killer would be at large. Sex shops, peep shows and pimps, prostitutes, and drug dealers were in Time Square and throughout the city, and the drug dealers, prostitutes and pimps were doing their illegal activities right in front of the police. The police force was corrupt, which might have been revealed by Frank Serpico - had he lived.

The city was also being hit hard by the economic downturn of the 1970s and sliding into bankruptcy. Within five years of his death financial institutions began to move out of Wall Street and the city faced complete collapse.

Wikipedia Note: in reality he survived and it was his act of bravery that prompted Mayor John V. Lindsay to appoint the landmark Knapp Commission to investigate the NYPD.