Back in the early eighties the crack and crime infested neighborhoods of South Brooklyn were devastated by poverty and urban decline. The 75th Precinct of the NYPD covers an area of Brooklyn south of Jamaica Boulevard and it is here that we meet Michael Dowd, perhaps the most corrupt cop America has ever known.
Heists, burglary, drug-dealing, kidnapping. There was literally nothing too dirty for Mikey D. and his crew of crooked cops. These guys ruled the neighborhood, shaking down drug dealers for protection money and committing hundreds of crimes in a reign of terror that lasted more than a decade.
The Seven Five is a fast moving documentary that spotlights the remorseless rise and inevitable fall of Dowd and his thuggish friends.
The real stars of this show are the bent cops themselves—interviewed for this movie documentary, they outline in every shameless detail, the depths to which they betrayed the NYPD and the residents of South Brooklyn. Dowd comes across as a Joe Pesci style wise guy from the get go. As one of the IA cops who finally took him down relates—“I first saw him in the car park out back of the station, he didn’t look like a cop, he didn’t have a cop look. He looked like a perp.”
Needless to say, Dowd, who spent a substantial amount of time in jail for his crimes, gushes forth about the bad old days and is still full of the wise guy bullshit, he weasels and lies and makes excuses—he looks misty eyed for the lost camaraderie of his crime-ish cohorts. But make no mistake, we are dealing with a bad man here, you will be appalled, maybe even sickened, but you will also be drawn into a story that is endlessly compelling.
The interviews with Dowd and his crew are linked by retro footage, shots of the horror and squalor of South Brooklyn, a neighborhood that looks reminiscent of modern day Syria in many instances. We also get courtroom admissions from the 1993 Police corruption investigation in which Dowd confesses all. Then there are the pièce de résistance opinions of drug kingpins Adam Diaz and Baron Perez. Diaz in particular comes across as being fiendishly unrepentant. “I’m not saying I killed him he just ain’t around no more,” he drawls at one point, a derisive smirk plastered across his face.
These are bad people all right; very bad people. If you love crime you will love the Seven Five Crimeziners. It is out now for a limited cinema release, also available on cable and DVD. Check it out