Backup Lamplighters

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The law enforcement whistleblower organization, The Lamplighter Project, is launching the virtual blood drive Backup Lamplighters, in honor of NYPD Detective Frank Serpico. Backup Lamplighters seeks to raise awareness about whistleblower retaliation in law enforcement.

Less than a year after the New York Times published Serpico’s revelations about widespread police corruption within the NYPD, he was shot in the face and ostensibly left for dead. Thanks to a good samaritan who called 911, Serpico was transported to Greenpoint Hospital where he received lifesaving treatment. In a departure from longstanding police tradition, none of Serpico’s colleagues from the NYPD turned out at the hospital to donate blood. During his recovery, Serpico was harassed by officers assigned to guard his hospital room and even received a get-well card expressing regret that he had survived the attempt on his life.

Serpico’s experiences a half-century ago are emblematic of the array of retaliation still faced by law enforcement whistleblowers today. In return for upholding their oath, those who report police misconduct are routinely investigated, demoted, reassigned, harassed, and denied timely backup. A reporting team from USA Today recently announced that their investigation had identified over 300 officers who had spoken out about police misconduct, often at great personal and professional cost.

Serpico once said, “We can still holler and shout, but we have to light the lamps that shed the light on corruption, injustice, ineptitude, and abuse of power.” This Giving Tuesday, show your support for police “lamplighters” by helping Lamplighter Project reach our campaign goal of 300 blood donor pledges.

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