Interview with CNN on May 17, 2015

BLACKWELL: There are good cops. There are bad cops. But there is only one Michael Dowd. He is the so-called dirtiest cop in New York City history. Back in the '80s and early '90s, this gangster in cops clothing ran a cocaine fueled crime network in Brooklyn, stealing drugs and guns and money from common criminals, and charging drug dealers thousands for his protection. Dowd confessed to breaking hundreds of laws and served 12 years in prison. But now he is out of prison. And for the first time, opening up about his story in a new documentary "The Seven Five." Now I spoke exclusively with this officer-turned-criminal about his time in the 75th Precinct and life after prison.  


MICHAEL DOWD, FORMER NYPD OFFICER: My mother is still in pain over it after all these years. And, you know, every time I see a police officer, I feel I can't even approach them and say hello. You know? I want to be a normal human being and citizen again. And it's very difficult to say hello to a police officer after you've dishonored the badge that he gives his heart and soul and blood for on a daily basis.

BLACKWELL: For the police officers who know your story, how do they respond or react to you?  

DOWD: You know, it's a mixed bag. Some are still angry at me and some understand the dynamics, first of all, the dynamics of what took place was in the 1980s. It was crack infested Manhattan/Brooklyn/East New York, and it was a different era, and there is no excuse for the behaviors as inappropriate and much maligned. But the fact is that it happened. We told the story. And many officers sort of have some empathy for it, but not necessarily sympathy.  

BLACKWELL: Back in '83 you testified there was an us versus them attitude, police versus the public. Do you think that still exists?  

DOWD: Well, I don't think it exists to the same degree as it did back then. And the public back then, it wasn't necessarily the public. The public was basically the scourge on the streets at the time was the local drug dealers in every single precinct throughout the city. It was scandals upon scandals, and, you know, officers young, 20-year- old police officers given a gun and a badge had to go out and protect these communities, and very naive, and succumb to these temptations, and here you have a person like myself, who was not given to do these things, but was very easily swayed by the temptations on the street.  

BLACKWELL: You also said that a Michael Dowd could not exist today. A cop as dirty as you were in the '80s couldn't exist today.  

DOWD: Yes.  

BLACKWELL: If you were -- if you had to wear a body camera back then, could you have gotten away with it?  

DOWD: No. I think body cameras should be on every police officer.  

BLACKWELL: Expound upon that.  

DOWD: Excuse me?  

BLACKWELL: Expound on that. Why?  

DOWD: Listen. Because most police officers are always doing the right thing, and it's the ones that are doing the wrong thing that we catch these glimpses or flashes of or even in some cases it's just perceived as wrong.  

But the fact it would actually help the police departments if they had cameras on, because you'd be surprised how hard the officers are working and how difficult of a position they are in every time they go to confront, i.e., a suspect or even an individual who may turn into a suspect. I mean, if the officer had a camera on him a couple of days ago when he approached the individual, you might actually seen when he was shot -- not that we want anyone to be shot -- why it happened, how it happened. There would be training lessons on a daily basis to keep both officers and the civilians safe.  


BLACKWELL: Our thanks to Michael Dowd.  

"The Seven Five" opens at theaters nationwide this month. We will be right back.