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Dennis Peck

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Of course you can trust me... I'm a cop.
~ Dennis Peck
You don't know what it's like. Everything changes when you have children. You don't think about yourself anymore. You think about nothing but them. You'd go around the world for them, you selfish YUPPIE!
~ Peck justifying his actions, and coincidentally his last words

Private Dennis Peck is the main antagonist in the 1990 film Internal Affairs.

He is portrayed by Richard Gere.

Biography

Peck is a corrupt member of the LAPD who often manipulates crime scenes to cover up for other police officers, among various other misdeeds. However, these traits go unnoticed by his superiors, who view Peck as a role model within his department. Peck's partner however, named Van Stretch, is known for his excessively violent behavior towards suspects (which Peck claims to know nothing about), and this draws the attention of Sergeant Raymond Avilla of the Internal Affairs division. While investigating Stretch and speaking to his wife Penny, who shows signs of domestic abuse, Raymond becomes suspicious of Peck and offers Stretch immunity if he can provide evidence against him. This initially fails, and Peck soon confronts Raymond in person, suggesting that he will try and seduce his wife Kathleen if Raymond continues with his investigation. However, Stretch later phones Penny to tell her that he will testify against Peck, unaware that she is making love to Peck and that he can hear everything he's saying.

At night, Peck and Stretch patrol Huntington Park and stumble upon an abandoned blue van during their routine check. As Stretch opens the sliding door, he is blasted in the chest with a shotgun, apparently killing him. The killer is revealed to be an assassin working with Peck, whom Peck then kills to cover his tracks. He then calls for LAPD assistance when Stretch reveals he is still alive, only for Peck to strangle him to death before the other officers arrive. However, another assassin (who was still hiding in the van) manages to escape before Peck can stop him.

Raymond later pursues the assassin and comes under heavy fire from a SWAT team, and the assassin ends up being shot by a police sniper. Before he dies though, he reveals to Raymond that Peck was responsible for Stretch's death, leading Raymond to track Peck down and follow him. Peck foresees this and arranges a meeting with Kathleen at a restaurant, claiming to be a member of the IAD who just wants to ask her some questions about Raymond. When Raymond sees this, he immediately believes Kathleen is having an affair with him, and Peck confirms his suspicions by beating him up in a lift and bragging about sleeping with Kathleen. An enraged Raymond confronts Kathleen over what he saw, but she convinces him of Peck's false claim and that she would never sleep with him.

Raymond and his Internal Affairs partner speak with Peck's wife who tells them about one of Peck's associates, named Steven Arrocas. Earlier, Steven had hired Peck to eliminate his parents for business purposes, and Raymond notices that his surname is the same as two recent homicide victims. As they are about to leave with this information, Raymond's partner is shot by Peck and taken to hospital.

Death

Fearing for Kathleen's safety, Raymond returns home to find that Peck has broken in and is about to rape her. Raymond holds him at gunpoint, but Peck lunges at him with a knife and Raymond is subsequently forced to shoot Peck twice in the chest, ending his life.

Personality

She's very pretty too. A little skinny for my taste, but they say the skinny ones give good head so...
~ Peck talking about Raymond's wife, Kathleen

Peck can be best described as a suave, perverted, smooth-talking, charming and efficient womanizer, who appears to have an undying sexual appetite as he is constantly seen cheating on his current wife with other women, including his partner's wife (who is also their accomplice), and also as a clever, calm, intelligent, arrogant, ruthless, deceitful, murderous, sociopathic, immoral, selfish and manipulative crooked cop who is not above breaking the law and regularly uses his fellow officers as pawns for his own nefarious purposes and schemes of which his superiors (who view him as a role model) are not aware, showing that he controls most, if not the entire, LAPD precinct he is in.

You know what they say about Latin fighters, Raymond? You know what they say? Too fucking MACHO! That's right. *Too fucking macho!* They don't backpedal when they have to. So they're used up. Young.
~ Peck after beating up Raymond.

Examples of Peck's ruthlessness and vengeful side include how he murdered his partner Van Stretch, who was already mortally wounded and begging for help; how he betrayed and shot the hitman, who shot Stretch in order to erase any connection between him and his partner's death; how he arranged the death of the other assassin, who was present during Stretch's murder, by tipping off SWAT, which in turn indirectly led to Officer Dorian Fletcher's death; how he viciously ambushed and beat up Raymond in an elevator and then lied to him that he slept with his wife to make Raymond suffer even more; how he killed Steven Arrocas and his wife to tie up loose ends; how he shot Wallace and how he attempted to rape Kathleen (despite being wounded in the leg) so he could get some sort of revenge against Raymond for exposing him. He was also shown not to feel remorseful about his victims and crimes, adding to his ruthless nature. In addition, he is also shown to take great pleasure in riling up Raymond with numerous disgusting and outrageous comments about his wife and lying that he and her were having an affair whenever he has the chance just so he could torment him psychologically.

How many cops you know, huh? Got nothing. Divorced, alcoholic, kids won't talk to them anymore, can't get it up. Sitting there in their little apartments, alone in the dark, playing lollipop with a service revolver?
~ Peck berating Van Stretch for abusing his wife.
I'm going to miss my children. Gonna miss them.
~ One of Peck's last words before he meets his end.

Despite these negative traits, Peck also had a good side, which was his protectiveness of women and family values, which are shown when he berated and slapped Stretch early in the film for assaulting his wife and traumatizing his son Sean and his tender side as a devoted and caring family man, who undoubtedly loved his ex-wives, his wife Heather and especially his children. In fact, just before his death, Peck said that will miss his children, heavily swore at Raymond for exposing him without understanding the reason for Peck's corrupt activities and murderous actions, and lastly justified his actions by saying "You don't know what it's like. Everything changes when you have children. You don't think about yourself anymore. You think about nothing but them. You'd go around the world for them, you selfish YUPPIE!", which suggests that Peck used to be an ordinary and non-corrupt cop until the birth of his children and his constant alimonies changed him and from then on, Peck got involved in criminal activities because while he truly loves his family and cares for them, he intentionally got himself involved in financial frauds and scams as he cannot support them financially with his insufficient salary (roughly $38,000 a month).

Overall, despite his crimes, Peck had good qualities and was right about one thing - a desperate person, who truly loves his family, would go on desperate lengths to protect, care for and support them, with Peck being such an example. This would make him more of an anti-hero because Peck did not want to, but was forced to get involved in criminal activities so that he may take care of his beloved family's welfare, but as a direct and unfortunate consequence, however, Peck's criminal activities also corrupted him little by little and eventually led to his death.

Trivia

  • He was portrayed by legendary actor Richard Gere.
  • Dennis Peck is constantly ranked by film critics as one of the best and most influential cinema villains of all time.
  • Internal Affairs and Pretty Woman (both from 1990) are considered Gere's two comeback films after a period of decline in his career.
  • Dennis is similar to Alonzo Harris from Training Day and Steve Haines from Grand Theft Auto V, as they are corrupt cops who use the law for their crooked ends. However, unlike the above-mentioned villains, Dennis is actually quite sympathetic.

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