• Graveyard Shift

Who Are The Seven Five: NYPD's Infamous Crooked Cops Led By Ringleader Mike Dowd

The tagline for the 2015 documentary The Seven Five reads, "Meet the dirtiest cop in NYC history." Who are the "Seven Five," and who is the man behind one of the biggest corruption scandals to rock the NYPD?

Michael Dowd began his career as a rookie cop in Brooklyn's 75th precinct in the early '80s, but he was soon swept up in the world of drug distribution, high-stakes theft, and police payoffs. Between 1986 and 1992, Dowd and other members of his precinct became gangsters in their own right while their bosses turned a blind eye. "The adrenaline was something you simply couldn't describe," Dowd said. "I was addicted to the buzz."

When the 75th precinct was finally taken down in 1992, it made international news. The Seven Five attempts to understand how so much blatant malfeasance went on as long as it did. Dowd himself has become an outspoken authority about life in the NYPD during that time. "We all knew it was wrong, but it was an addictive excitement," he said. "It was all upside down."

  • The 75th Precinct Had New York’s Highest Number Of Slayings In The '80s

    The east side of Brooklyn, which corresponds to the 75th precinct where Dowd was employed, was referred to as a "war zone" in the 1980s. It was the kind of place that "would scare Clint Eastwood," according to those who lived and worked there at the time.

    Paradoxically, courtesy of those profiting from the crack-cocaine epidemic, this crime-stricken part of NYC was also "one of the richest neighborhoods in the city." Drug-related violence was a daily occurrence in the 75th, and cops making meager salaries found taking advantage of the rampant gang activity alluring.

    Dowd was one of the most eager to take a share of the loose, illicit money flying around.

  • Mike Dowd First Crossed The Line When He Took A $200 Bribe At A Routine Traffic Stop

    Dowd was 20 years old when he became an NYPD police officer in 1982. The next year, he was assigned to patrol the 75th precinct. He claims he got his first taste of corruption when he accepted a $200 bribe during a routine traffic stop.

    The young Puerto Rican man Dowd stopped had no papers for his black Corvette, and Dowd decided to make a deal with him. "I told him he was looking at $2,000 in tickets or jail time, so I suggested if he bought me a nice lobster lunch I could let him go."

    The man agreed, handing over the cash and leaving Dowd with a "buzzing" feeling he wasn't able to shake off. "There was a lot of anger in me," he admitted. "These young punks were running around with all kinds of money and I was broke."

  • The Precinct Was Not Worried About Internal Affairs Oversight

    In 1994, The New York Times reported that "senior officers repeatedly ignored allegations against Officer Dowd or blocked efforts to check them out in a deliberate policy to shield the department from scandal." Sixteen complaints were filed against Dowd, accusing him of offenses as severe as robbing dealers and selling coke, but no accusations were investigated internally by the NYPD.

    In fact, in 1987, Dowd's supervisor described him as having "excellent street ­knowledge" and "good career ­potential" in his performance review.

  • No One Wanted To Be Paired Up With Dowd Because Of How Crooked He Was

    From the beginning of his career, Mike Dowd was known as a "crooked cop," and officers were reluctant to work with him. He was pompous and, shielded by his bosses, unabashedly unscrupulous. "I was a law unto myself and the law to anyone in my area," he told The Daily Mirror.

    When Ken Eurell was asked to be Dowd's partner, others in the 75th warned him. Even though no one on the force would "rat him out," most chose to keep their distance.