We wonder what fabled NYPD officer Frank Serpico would say if he read Scott Bloch's recent op-ed in the Federal Times. Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel, the agency charged with investigating and remedying abuse of government employees, drops Serpico's name as part of his effort to talk up his agency—an agency that, under Bloch's 18-month tenure, has come under increasing fire.
Serpico's story is simple in the telling: he saw widespread corruption in the NYPD, reported it, was rebuffed again and again, leaked it to the New York Times, and then, after he was shot in the face while on the job, people took notice. Serpico's allegations helped spurn the Knapp Commission—the 9/11 Commission of the NYPD at the time.
Back to Bloch: it's funny he cites Serpico because, like Serpico, so many contemportary would be whistle blowers (or “lamplighters” as Serpico prefers to call them) are being ignored. To fix a backlog of cases, Bloch had his staff summarily close out 500 complaints without even calling the complainant to see if there was any meat to their accusations. He claimed, in his op-ed and before the Senate, that these cases were slated for removal by his predecessor—which is false.
You can't blame Bloch for the woes of today's whistle blowers/lamplighters. Fact is, Congress and the courts have severely limited federal employees' ability to disclose wrongdoing and fraud without getting theirs heads handed to them by their superiors. But you can blame Bloch for fudging the numbers and by doing so, wounding the credibility and integrity of the best shot federal workers have at getting due process.