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Actor Al Pachino is seen here playing the role of New York City cop Frank Serpico.  The real Serpico is seen leaving the Bronx Courthouse alone after testifying before the Knapp Commission on wide spread police corruption in the department. Sgt. Earl K. Bell the Frank Serpico of the DC Police Department.


The story below is a reprint from Frank Serpico as he writes about the continued corruption and today's police brutality in police departments around America 40 years later


I call it "Testi-lying." It has been a regular practice in police forces across the United States, at least since I served on the NYPD: Official testimony that is made a part of a police after-action report but is pure lies, an invention.  In the old days police  would carry a "drop knife---an inexpensive weapon cops would bring along on patrol to drop onto or next to suspect that they had taken out so that they could say that he had threaten them.  Today you don't even need to do that; all that you have to do is justify the use of deadly force if you are a police officer is to say that you feared for your life, for whatever reason. If the victim dies, that just means there will one less witness around to contradict the test-lie.  

In the case of Officer Michael Slager of the North Charleston police, it appears he was being extra-carefulto cover his tracks.  Probably he could have gotten away with simply declaring, as he did in the radioed report, that Walter Scott "took my taser," and that would have probably have sufficed to exonerate him.  But Slager having shot Scott eight times in the back--as everyone can see in the now famous video--perhaps felt that he needed a little help explaining what he was up to.  So apparently dropped his Taser next to Scott's body, which would obviously help to make the case that Scott "Took my taster."


If you think that what happen in North Charleston is a unique case, its not.  Only recently, in another case, a policewoman in Pennsylvania first Tasered a black man then shot him twice in the back as he lay face down in the snow.  She was chasing him for an expired parking ticket.  There were five seconds between shots.  She said she feared for her life.  It was captured on her own Taser camera.


I have been saying this for a long time, ever since I spoke before the Knapp Commission investigating corruption in the NYPD more then 40 years ago: Unless we create an atmosphere where the crooked cop fears the honest cop, and not the other way around, the system will never changed.  Unless honesty is rewarded more often then corruption, the police will lose credibility altogether.  I wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton in 1994 addressing this very issue, saying that honest cops have never been rewarded, and maybe there ought to be a medal for them, he wrote back but nothing change.  Now in the era of citizen videotaping, police credibility is at stake as never before.  If enough testi-lying is uncovered, then who is going to believe the police even when they are telling the truth?  They will be seen as crying wolf.  


Until now the shoot first fear of my life mantra has eliminated any cause for concern in the taking of life by police.  When a civilian committs a crime, every nuance is looked at, the better to "throw the book at" the suspect.  When cops err, it is the opposite reaction.  Eyes are averted, aggravating circumstances are ignored.  And now the public is learning about every time a new video tape emerges that undermines the official police story.


There is only one solution:  The good cops really have to step up, and the system has to reward them, rather then punish them.  The other day I got a letter from a journalist in Argentina who was complaining about police and judicial corruption there.  I wrote back to him, there are good cops, even where you live, but if the good cops don't want to be painted with the same broad brush as the bad cops, they need to come forward and expose the guys who are doing bad things.                                                 

Instead, you habitually get police union representatives defending these police officers no matter what they do.  Take New York City detective who was caught on camera recently abusing an Uber driver with threats and foul language,  This was truly disgusting behavior. Yet predictably enough the detective union leader, Michael Palladino, was out there making excuses for him, suggesting that, well, it was only one incident, and everyone has a bad day.  " Cops are just like everyone else," he said.  The detective is one of good character .  He really should not be judged by one isolated incident."  What Palladino overlooked was there were numerous other incidents in that officer's file that were not caught on tape.


What should the public believe when when everytime the police close ranks like that?  Afterward Police Commissioner William Bratton announced he was removing the detective's shield and placing him temporarily on desk duty while an investigation is conducted .  But this man needs to be demoted to uniform at the very least, or "back in the bag" as we use to say.  Imagine what he is capable of doing under the cover of darkness if he can talk to someone like that in broad daylight.  But will anyone follow up to see if that happens?


Its important to make the point that we shouldn't make cops feel that as a whole they are under attack.  There are plenty legitimate incidents where police believe, correctly, that their lives are in danger.  I was in a few of those situations myself during the course of my career.


But unless the police forces and society as a whole take action we're not going to be able to distinguish between the legititimate claims and made-up testimony.  And this is not just a phenomenon; the law itself needs to be changed so that when a police officer shoots a suspect in the line of duty, a real investigation is conducted, and by an outside, impartial body.


If changes are not made, the age of the citizen videotaping could began to alter forever our society's view of the police officers who protect us.  A long time ago Norman Rockwell painted a famous picture of a friendly neighborhood cop bending down to help a little boy. How much longer will America cling to that image, in the face of images of the kind we saw in North Charleston?


                                                                                                                       Frank Serpico is a former New York City detective             







Sirious XM Radio host Maggie Linton, HBell, Peirre Garcon, Gary Johnson (Black Men in America) and SpinFire CEO Fouad Qiretem

When I think of a combination of a great athlete and a great human being, I can usually count the ones that I have encountered in my life time on one hand.  For example; I could name someone who is a great athlete but a lousy human being or I could name someone who is a great human being but not a great athlete.  My choice would always be the great human being every time.

I have been fortunate during my career as a youth advocate (50 years) and a pioneering sports talk show radio personality (45 years) to meet several great athletes/great human beings.  Heading the list is Muhammad Ali (The Greatest), Red Auerbach (NBA), Dave Bing (NBA), Lenny Moore (NFL), Bert R. Sugar (Boxing), Lee Jones (NBA), Roy Jefferson (NFL) and Harold McLinton (NFL), finding pro athletes like them today are far, few and in-between.  And that is a sad commentary when you think about the hundreds of men and women I have interviewed on Inside Sports and worked with as a youth advocate (Kids In Trouble).   Its possible, I set my standards too high–honesty and integrity were the only requirements.



The Great Ones: Washington Pro Football players, LB Harold McLinton (Santa) Judge Luke C. Moore, LB Dave Robinson (2013 NFL Hall of Fame inductee) and WR Roy Jefferson host KIT toy party.  Sam Jones (NBA), Lenny Moore (NFL) and Roy Jefferson (NFL) participate in KIT clothing drive for needy children at Union Station.  Ali and wife Veronica attend KIT Awards Dinner.  The great Red Auerbach and wife Dottie (NBA) guest host on Inside Sports.  Bert Sugar (Boxing) receives KIT Life Time Achievement Award and Dave Bing (NBA) pays tribute to KIT Saturday Program All-Stars.

I had the opportunity to hear an interview on Sirius  XM Radio (channel 126) on the Maggie Linton Show recently, her guest was NFL Washington Pro football player, wide receiver Peirre Garcon.  I have not been very impressed with today’s pro athletes and their give back commitment to their family, friends and community.  My problem, is how can you forget those who knew you when you had absolutely nothing?   Peirre was a breath of fresh air.  He has not forgotten who he is and where he came from.  He is the proud son of immigrant parents who hail from the island of Haiti.  He has three older sisters making him the youngest and the only one born in the United States.

His father died when he was 4 years old leaving his mother to raise him and his 3 sisters alone.  My background is similar to Peirre’s, my mother had to raise 4 boys alone with an assist from Grandma Bell.  I remember my father as a Deadbeat Dad from birth, he was never there for us.  Peirre’s mom was their Rock as our mom was our Rock!  When I speak to young people I remind them that my heroes were not black athletes, my heroes could not shoot a jump shot, hit a baseball out of the stadium, or kick a 60 yard field goal, my heroes were black women.  A similarity that Peirre shares.

Peirre Garcon was an outstanding wide receiver and track star (100 and 200 meters) in high school and college and that is where our similarities end. Many have claim that I was a great athlete, but I know a great athlete when I see one and I am not one of them.  My claim to fame was not being a great athlete, my claim to fame was I wanted the ball in my hands when the game was on the line.  I played football, basketball and baseball in high school and my “Gimme the ball” attitude kept me in the doghouse with my teammates and some coaches, I was considered cocky and selfish.

I thought every ball that was thrown in the air was my ball and no-one could check me one on one!  My baseball coach Dr. Leo Hill kicked me to the curve for stealing home to lose a ball game with our best hitter at the plate and final at bat.  Dr. William Roundtree the basketball coach made me turn in my uniform my senior year when I decided to switch from top defender to top scorer.  The football coach Dave Brown locked me on the bus for the second half of a game against next door neighbor and rival Phelps Vocational High School.  The reason, I jumped off-side and caught a touch pass for a 6-0 half-time lead but the play was called back.  I blamed my Quarterback Don Wills for not calling the signals loud enough for me to hear.  Coach Brown told me to stay on the bus and see if I could hear the signals from there.  Wills returned a punt for 63 yards to win the win the game 6-0.  I had to apologize to my teammates and coaches to stay on the team.  Smart decision–I was on my last athletic legs.

There was another similarity, I notice during the interview with Maggie how comfortable Peirre was sitting behind a microphone.  His major in college was communications and while on campus he hosted his own radio talk show.   The way he described his talk show format, he had no cut-card, nothing was off-limits or out-of-bounds.  Sounds like the original Inside Sports talk show format that is now copied around the country.

The “I Care” televised promos we see during the NBA Finals, Super Bowls and World Series are more about the billionaire owners then about the players giving back to their communities.  The first pro athletes to ‘Care’ and give back without calling a press conference were DC natives and hall of fame players, Dave Bing (NBA) and  Willie Wood (NFL).  In 1967 Dave was a rookie participating in the NBA All-Star Game in Baltimore when there was a drive-by shooting at a DC Public School.  A student was shot in front of Spingarn after a basketball game against cross town rival McKinley Tech.  I was working with the DC Recreation Department’s Roving Leader Program( Youth Gang Task Force) at the time of the shooting.  I was a Spingar alumnus so I was assigned to the school in the role of peace-maker.  The young man shot was not seriously injured but talks of revenge persisted.  The question was, where and who could I turn to for help in bringing peace to this volatile situation?

The NBA All-Star Game was being played in Baltimore that same weekend of the shooting and a Spingarn alumnus was making his rookie debut, Dave Bing.   I had known Dave since he was a youngster playing basketball on the NE playgrounds in our community.  I had become not only a friend but a mentor.  My gut instincts told me to ride over to Baltimore and I did.   On Saturday morning I was waiting outside of the arena when Dave arrived with teammate Bob Lanier.   To say he was surprised to see me would be an understatement.  He could not believe his eyes, he said, “Harold Bell is that really you?”  While we shared a handshake and a hug, his Detroit teammate Bob Lanier introduced himself and disappeared into the arena leaving me and Dave to ourselves.

I explained the surprise visit and why I needed him to come to Spingarn and speak to the student body.  He was more than willing and on Monday morning he walked into the auditorium and the students gave him a standing ovation.  They had just seen him on national television playing in the NBA All-Star Game.  His words of wisdom brought an end to the talks of revenge and more violence.  Willie Wood was one of DC’s finest all-around athletes and played 12 years with the great Vince Lombardi.  Lombardi led the Green Bay Packers to the first Super Bowl ever played.  Vince called Willie his coach on the field.  During the off-season he came home to work as a teacher in the DC Public Schools or with the DC Recreation Department’s Roving Leader Program.  In the 6os the NFL was not paying the players these enormous salaries that today’s players are making, so Willie had to find a second job to make ends meet.  During the 1968 riots Willie walked the streets as my co-worker along with U. S. Marshall in Charge, Luke C. Moore.  Luke was the first black in modern day history to head the U. S. Marshall Service (he was appointed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson).   The 3 of us walked arm-in-arm down the U Street corridor aka Black Broadway.  This was the hardest hit area in the Nation’s Capitol.  In the 70s, 80s and 90s Willie and Luke were members of the Board of Directors of Kids In Trouble.  If Willie Wood was playing today, the New York Jets’ Darrelle Revis would not be the only 16 million dollar defensive back playing in the NFL.

willie woodDickHellerscan0022The great Willie Wood says thanks to the equally great Washington Times sports columnist the late Dick Heller.  Dick helped lead the fight for Willie’s induction into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989. 


As the receiving coach for the DC Public High School West All-Stars (1969), I am passing on some accumulated knowledge with receivers Bob Wagman of Wilson and Charlie Stovall of Cardozo. 

I have been watching Peirre from a distant since his arrival in DC 3 years ago (2012) via the Indianapolis Colts.  He has been called a pro’s pro and one of the hardest workers in pro football.   He is not the rah-rah type of player, he leads by example.  He had a breakout season in 2013 when he caught a franchise record-breaking 113 receptions for over 1,300 yards.  He broke the great Art Monk’s record.  The following year he had 50 less receptions and half the yardage gained.  I knew he was special when he never made an excuse or pointed his finger at his quarterback, that is why he is called a pro’s pro by his coaches and teammates.

It looks like his silence and work ethic will be rewarded in the 2015 NFL season.  His head coach Jay Gruden and position coach Ike Hilliard who played wide receiver at a high level in the NFL, both said, we must find away to get Peirre more involved in the offense in the 2015 season.  The fanfare creative by the acquisition of  DeSean Jackson from the Philadelphia Eagles, which I consider the biggest heist in the NFL last year could pay big dividends in 2015.

In a story on NFL.Com, Gruden said more than once last season that he wanted to get Garcon more involved in the passing game. But it never really happened, whether it was a result of free agent DeSean Jackson’s addition to the receiving corps, the revolving door at quarterback or the failure of RG III to make timely, decisive reads, is still the $64,000 question?

When the Redskins got back to work this off season, Peirre frequently lined up split out wide to the right of Griffin rather than in his customary spot to the quarterback’s left. According to Hilliard, it represented an attempt to diversify the offense and get players comfortable with other roles.

And both Hilliard and Gruden spoke highly about the work Garcon was putting in. Heading into his eighth NFL season, Peirre, who’ll turn 29 in August, didn’t miss a session of optional workouts or the mandatory mini-camp.

“I’m impressed, especially with Pierre,” Gruden said, asked his impressions of Garcon and Jackson, who exercised his right to skip several of the optional workouts. “Pierre has been here every day, working his tail off, doing a great job.”  Hilliard was even more effusive, calling the 6-foot, 216-pound Garcon “a stud” for his effort in practice, the tough yards he gains after catches and his willingness as a blocker.

“Can’t say enough good things about him,” Hilliard said of Garcon, who had 68 receptions for 752 yards last season. “He’s a pro’s pro — a guy you model your game after if you’re a young pro; a guy you pick his brain, if you’re a young guy, when he’s around. You watch him work; you process the game —or try to process the game the way he does. The consummate pro.”


Another similarity, number 88 keeping their eyes on the ball and the Game Called Life 

When I think of Peirre’s work ethic I think of my own as a high school, college and semi-pro player, I played the way I practice, I never took a play off. My teammates would often get pissed-off at me because I went hard on every play, I treated practice like it was the game.  I became a good blocker out of necessity–self defense.  My size made me a target for aggressive linebackers and defensive backs (bump and run).  I got tired of getting beat up, when I was not involved in the play called, I would blind side them to let them know, two could play their game.  This tactic worked for me because my playing weight was 170 pounds soaking wet compared to Peirre’s 215 pounds.  Being a great downfield blocker helps Peirre get into his pass patterns and keeps the defensive backs guessing.  Most great wide receivers are also great blockers and actors.  The great NFL Hall of Fame player, former Washington Redskin wide receiver Charlie Taylor was a devastating downfield blocker.  He use to keep defensive backs and linebacker’s heads on a swivel, they could not afford go to sleep on him.

Peirre Garcon is in a class by himself on the Washington Pro Football team.  He is the only active player that has caught 100+ passes and one of 3 players in the NFL who has average 5 receptions a game for an entire regular season.  If the Washington Football team is be in a position to make the play-offs in 2015, they will need a balance passing attack.  A healthy Peirre Garcon and DeSean Jackson are one of the most dangerous combos in the NFL.  The question marks are, can RG III make the proper reads and can running back Alfred Morris be the workhorse to keep the defenses honest.

Time out there is more, Peirre turns 29 in August and he has already prepared himself for life after the NFL.  His daring game plan for life after football to invest in pizza restaurants had many scratching their heads–another pizza parlor?  Peirre and his business partner Paisano’s CEO Fouad A. Qreitem’s new business venture is called SpinFire its all about pizza in 90 seconds.  And the customers can have it their way (any ingredient).  Right now there are locations in Ashburn and Rosslyn, Virginia.  There are plans to open stores at Tyson’s Corner and Wheaton mall before the end of the year.

Peirre has huddled with teammates and other players in the NFL about franchising locations in college towns, where they could leverage their celebrity to attract customers (there is gold in them hills).

There is one other similarity, I was a “Mommy’s boy.”  There was no maybe, I was‘Mommy’s baby’ of Mattie Bell’s 4 boys.   To understand what makes Peirre the humble and strong brother that he is today, you have to look no further then his family, being an only son automatically makes him a ‘Mommy’s boy. ‘  And with 3 sisters, he is loved and protected by his heroes, black women.

Down and out was my favorite pass pattern, but Peirre’s career pattern will be deep and long.


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