By Nick Christophers
When you think about undercover officers you usually think about people like Sonny Crockett from Miami Vice. But sometimes reality is much different than TV. People like Joseph Occhipinti retired INS agent is the real thing when it comes to undercover officers, who braved the dangers involved in the business.He is also the creator and director of the National Police Foundation. Joseph has been with law enforcement for the past 35 years, 22 of those years being federal. He has endured many trials and tribulations in those years that could easily be adapted to film.
In his years of work he has always tried to help the less fortunate and in the process develop cases. He has been involved in high profile cases from organized crime to terror cells. Besides all his sensitive cases he has devoted his time to developing helpful organizations. One example is the National Police Foundation that was responsible with assisting victims of the 9/11 attacks, psychologically.
In addition to psychological assistance the Foundation offered police officers, which were effected with disability, medical and legal issues. The organization is also responsible for advocates for officers due to political concerns due to fabricated allegations. Many of these cases have been televised on 60 Minutes, CBS and NBC. Besides being aired on TV the possibility of his stories being published are high. Let alone being adapted to film.
In 1995 he established the Safe Cop Program, which is set up to reward anyone with information on officers shot on the job. On the heels of that project Joseph developed " Operation Kids" which is a multi-faceted program set up to find missing children. This program was endorsed by television personality John Walsh of Americas Most Wanted.
The " Operation Kids" program is positive incentives for children who report any inappropriate Internet communication receive a $500 reward. The program has been successful and also offers free scholarships. His most dangerous undercover operation would have to be uncovering the drug trafficking from Colombia to the Dominican Republic. Unknowingly to many people drug smuggling from the Dominican Republic is a big business. Most people have little or no knowledge that the DR is the second stop for drugs before they arrive in the US.
Joseph was an expert on International Crime Syndicates and had the highest felony arrests along with 78 commendations. The task force he worked under targeted bodegas that were used to funnel drugs into the market. Joseph dealt directly with the drug lords. In the process of the operation the drug lords had the audacity to accuse him of illegal searches. Because of the court case the program was terminated. Due to the case Joseph was against the wall but media personality Mike McClary conducted an investigation and helped Joseph clear his name. The NYPD and some civil rights groups also aided him. President Bush even offered him executive clemency. " The majority of Dominicans are hard working citizens, who are just victims to the small concentrations of criminals."
Recently, Mr. Occhipinti has come to the aide of a fellow police officer who was hurt on the job. Due to a gunshot wound the officer was left a paraplegic Mr. Occhipinti furnished him with a wheelchair. That was not the only the good will gesture he has worked on. At the present time he is feverishly working on bringing an ailing child from Ecuador for urgent medical attention. The boy Ugo Benevides is suffering from scoliosis.
The boy's family does not have the funds to help their child and Joseph was touched by their plight and decided to help. He secured a visa for Ugo to come here for treatment. Ugo is due for more tests in 2007. Without Mr. Occhipinti's help who knows in what condition he would be in today. As of this writing Mr. Occhipinti is suffering from certain medical ailments due to his career as an undercover agent. But he does not bat and eye or regret his past career. " In my business things like this happen. My legacy would be cited to the important work I did, from infiltrating the drug cartel to helping children."
For the most part Joseph is not in the trenches anymore but he keeps active on things that mean most. That would be helping people and doing whatever is possible for fellow officers in the field. For the most part Joseph Occhipinti is a celebrity in that he is always serving the public and never letting them down. A true product of how following the right path can lead to any kind of stardom.