An Interview with Corrupt Cop Michael Dowd
The Seven Five is one of the hottest documentary films going. It has a Scorcese like feel and examines the corruption in the NYPD in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Corrupt cops are a blight on the community but somehow corrupt cop extraordinaire Michael Dowd makes his actions seem cool. He is nonchalant and casual as he describes what he was into back in the day during his time running the streets as a representative of the NYPD. Robbing drug dealers and making them pay a street tax was his MO. He was just in it for the money and whenever he and his crew came across some illegal drug cash they were on it. In this candid interview he explains how he was contacted to participate in the documentary, what life was like then, how he has moved on from the transgressions of his youth, reuniting with his former partner who ratted him out, and what life is like now after the film.
I was sitting in a parking lot in Long Island and my girlfriend her phone rang and she said your agent is on the phone. I had been out of prison seen or eight years and my agent hadn’t done anything. I get on the phone and the guy on the other line its my agent and I was like who the fuck is it? He was like this is Tiller Russell and I was like what the fuck do you want Tiller? And how’d you get my number. He didn’t have y number he had her number and he explained to me that he had his ways and certain people so he explained to me about how he went about getting it It was behind me, my life had moved on and I was just going to go ahead and finish my certification in air conditioning and refrigeration and have an industrious career in that but it would have been hard to get a job because no one would hire me. When he came along with his idea and I agreed, because I’m not letting someone do a story about me without me putting my input into it.
What was it like on the streets as a cop back then?
It was scary. I didn’t belong there at the time mentally and not physically either. Not until I was about 24-25 was I physically capable to handle myself as a man for my size and with a gun. You turn the corner and five or six guys know you were coming before you get there. Its a very unique position to be in however when you confront and you learn the street you almost embrace because its almost like you got this veil around you and you cant do any wrong.
Youthfulness, foolishness, the lack of integrity is obvious. As a 54 year old man its very clear the mistakes I made. I made the first step over the line. And you can’t have both you have to be serious or not. It was a very costly mistake I made. I still pay for it on a daily basis and I have a great deal of remorse.
What was it like seeing your partner again after he ratted on you?
I met Kenny in front of the 75th Precinct during filming. We were good. I’m a 54 year old man. Im not like the gangster I was. Back then I was ripping and roaring and today I’m a gentleman, a little wacky but I’ a gentleman and I like to do what I like to do and I had to come to terms in the joint with this guy one way or another whether I ever see him again or not, I don’t know. I didn’t know if I would ever see him again. I had love for him my whole life. I still have love for him. But in a different way now. Its more like I love you but don’t try to step on my toe. I felt like I was doing him a favor by reaching out to him. Trying to send him some peace and love. I understand what you did. When you do time you have to come to terms with what happened. You have to put yourself in the other guy shoes, you may not like it you may love it. But you have to accept it. Come to peace with it. When you do a long stretch you have to do that otherwise you’re gonna come out angry as hell.
This lady tells me I was in Hells Kitchen when Hells Kitchen was Hells Kitchen not Disney Land like it is today. We knew what the cops were doing. You know what we didn’t give a shit. Because we knew even though they were doing that if you weren’t involved in the game they were there to protect you and they did. I have to say that is how I used to live my life in East New York. I never won no medals but its almost in a sense like we were the Robin Hoods of the day. We had the Robin Hood crew. That is what you felt like, that you were part of the Robin Hood crew. Who were we robbing? The kids who loved the money and obviously you were just a part of it.
What do the stories mean to you?
I get so jacked up when I tell these stories you have to feel it. At one minute I’m saving someone’s life at the other end of the precinct I’m robbing a drug dealer. We call it robbing but it wasn’t robbing it was just a shakedown. Everybody knew it was part of the price. Back then the streets were like you let me go cool. I take a little pride in that even though its nothing to boost about. The guys never parted with me mad. They might be a little annoyed because I got them. They were like its only Dowd. I could see almost a little smile when I rolled up. Better than what the other guys did. They knew they weren’t going to jail. When we rolled up, me and one of my boys, the drug dealers were like we’re cool tonight. The thing is if I am going to tell the story you are going to hear the story the way it happened. I’m not gonna be crying through my lemonade as I tell you the story. I’m tell you the way it was to be in the car with me. I’m taking a lot of hear for this in some areas but I am just a storyteller, I get excitable, I wear my emotions on my sleeve.
Whats in the future for you?
I got a book coming out too. It will fill in a lot of unanswered questions that the documentary didn’t answer. We signed with Sony for a film deal too.
Check out the trailer for the film-