It isn’t long before Serpico’s high ideals take a hit. Many within his department have a sense of entitlement and violate the ethics code at will. They demand free meals from diners, ignore emergency calls, abuse suspects, and—most glaringly—take kickbacks from gamblers and other criminals.They expect Serpico to join this racket, but he resists, and is shocked that no one else seems to share his principles. After he is handed a mysterious stash of money, in an effort to buy his silence, he alerts the proper authorities, hoping they will end the secret payoffs. But nothing transpires—even as the graft and corruption grow worse.Word gets out that Serpico is trying to upend the police force—or rather, clean it up—and virtually the entire force turns against him. He is called a “wierdo,” a “psycho,” and of course a “rat.” Fellow officers try to frame him in an immoral sexual liason. They transfer him from one division to the next, hoping to demoralize him. He’s warned again and again not to push any further, lest he “wind up face down in the East River.”Serpico’s fight evolves into the surreal, when a fellow officer tells him:“Frank, let’s face it—who can trust a cop that won’t take money?” and when Serpico confesses, in turn, to his girlfriend,“It’s amazing, it’s incredible, but I feel like a criminal because I didn’t take money.”By now, Serpico’s life is in serious danger—and not as much from the criminals, as his fellow officers. They want him gone, silenced—if necessary, dead.Undaunted, Serpico marches on. He thinks he has found an official, Captain McClain, within the department, who promises him a genuine investigation, provided he doesn’t go public, and meets him under Hell’s Gate Bridge in Queens. The ensuing conversation goes from bad to worse, as Serpico realizes he is being stalled and betrayed yet again. McClain warns Serpico never to go to an outsider, because “we wash our own laundry around here.... You could be brought up on charges. Did you hear me, Serpico? Stay away from this!”Serpico (shouting):“Wher e am I going to go?”McClain:“You just wait until you hear from me!”Serpico:“I’ve been waiting a year and a half!”At that point, McClain turns his back and stomps away, leaving Serpico to fend for himself. Finally, Serpico explodes in rage, with words that echo throughout the borough, “It’s my life, you [expletive]!Most of us will never be in a situation anywhere near as perilous as Serpico was, and yet most of us have likely witnessed wrongdoing of some kind, and tried—or been challenged—to correct it. Anyone who has ever done so, only to run into a brick wall, can identify with the frustration, the fury and sheer agony Frank Serpico experiences when trying to act out his conscience.