Courage and a moral compass

November 17, 2012

An story that appeared Wednesday in the Observer-Reporter on the death of David Durk, a former New York police lieutenant, probably did not or will not get the attention it deserved.

In an era where the word “hero” is tossed about almost every day for every reason, he was a true hero. Durk, along with Detective Frank Serpico, broke through the “blue wall” or code of silence that many law enforcement officials have.

In his case, it was the corruption of New York City drug detectives and police officers who accepted mountains of cash to overlook and facilitate the drug traffic in New York’s poorest neighborhoods and among New York’s elite.

The work of Durk and Serpico, but particularly Durk because he was a supervisor, led to the breaking of the corruption story and the subsequent Knapp Commission that investigated this corruption. Both men put their lives and careers at risk. Thankfully, Durk was able to continue working in the NYPD for an additional 10 years.

This is significant, as today though whistleblower laws and the Innocence Project, numerous corrupt officials and innocent prisoners are finally getting their day in court. One need only look at the various corruption cases that have been reported in Pennsylvania to understand the importance of Durk’s actions.

Today, as a result of Durk’s actions, along with Serpico, more and more individuals have come forward. Additionally, some respectability is being returned to law enforcement. What a terrific legacy to leave. Durk was a hero in every sense of the word, with courage and a moral compass.

James Hassett



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