Michael Dowd is an American Progressive Christian minister, author, and eco-theologian known as an advocate of Big History, Religious Naturalism, and the Epic of Evolution. His evangelizing to some 1,800 audiences starting in April 2002 provided material for Thank God for Evolution in 2008. This book is noteworthy for its breadth and depth of endorsements; it includes six Nobel Prize-winning scientists. On April 2, 2009, Dowd at the United Nations addressed the lack of an evolutionary worldview which he maintains has resulted in a global integrity crisis. Overcoming this crisis, he says, requires a deep-time view of human nature, values and social systems. He maintains a Christian perspective and accepts the theory of evolution. Dowd expanded his outreach program with the founding of EvolutionaryChristianity.com in 2010. Thirty-eight religious leaders from diverse backgrounds joined him in an audio seminar introduction.
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If you're not familiar, my name is Michael Dowd, former NYPD officer turned "New York's most corrupt cop." My life has come full circle after a successful documentary, The (Precinct) Seven Five, and I am currently speaking on the past as well as the current climate of policing, and even working with the NYPD again.
You can find out about me and a link to the documentary on http://www.themikedowd.com
Also Facebook, twitter, instagram on TheMikeDowd
The documentary is currently in the process of being turned into a major motion picture and I am currently working on a book.
Thanks everybody for coming out. I appreciate your time and hope that I was able to answer many of your questions. If you haven't seen the documentary, it is coming out in the UK on Friday, and back on DVD in the US on September 15th. Links to the movie and information on me and my background as well as what I am doing going forward are on my website, http://www.themikedowd.com
I was just on Nick DiPaolo's podcast this afternoon and it should be up shortly. Check it out at http://www.riotcast.com
Also feel free to ask me questions on my twitter, TheMikeDowd
Thanks all, have a great night!
If you had any advice for a rookie cop today what would it be?
Learn the job, Learn to Survive; study and get promoted. Learn to serve the public, you are there to serve them.
Were you ever involved with some of the more famous NY criminal families or was it all on a local level as per the documentary?
Yes, at least 2 of the families, but not intimately.
What was your time like on the NYPD?
You know what, it was fascinating. Everyday something new occurred, whether it was thrilling, dangerous, ridiculous; it was just a non stop variety of situations. These situations could make a young man into a time-tested adult in a very short period of time.
What do you think of the current stand off between officers and the Black Lives Matter movement?
I think it's a shame, I think all lives matter, black and white, civilians and police officers. I think there should be a common ground or understanding where everyone takes a step back to see what is going on. There are 3 sides to every story, either individual and the truth. I think one way to get a clear story is to require all officers to wear body cameras at all times, and have non-lethal weapons as the primary deterrence.
In your best approximation:
What percentage of NYPD are really corrupt (extremely illegal activity)?
What percentage are very mildly corrupt (e.g. accepting bribes, clocking in for overtime to go to bars, and doing misdemeanors)?
What percentage are complete law abiders (e.g. not turning on lights just to run a red light)?
These are all guesses because I am not on the police force any longer:
1) Very Very tiny, less than 1 percent.
2) Close to 10. In the police world, any bit of corruption is corruption, even taking a half price pizza makes you a "corrupt" cop for unlawful Gratuity.
3) I am sure most people both in civilian life and police life are guilty of this. There's a little bit of larceny in everybody, you could steal time by going through a red light or speeding, or even something like forgetting your seatbelt. Even my grandmother might smoke in front of a no-smoking sign, so at any given time for anybody, it could be 0-100%
Hey mike, are we on?
yes we are.
What was going thru your mind when you heard that I, Walter , was under investigation the night I was finally arrested in July 1988?
What did he do, and oh my god, the shit's gonna hit the fan!
OK Mike, now that Im on here with you, when Tiller contacted you to see if you wanted to be part of a project, were you like me when I received his Fed Ex letter dredging up the past, Believing I was way past all that but, heres a chance to tell My, Your, side of who we were back then in the eighties?
I wanted him to go away but he was going to do the story with me or without me.
must be really tough to get a job right, since now employers google employees.
it's hard to get past the first interview.
how's your relationship with your family now?
it's getting better. they're not proud of what I did, and stirring it all up again is not pleasant, but they love me.
We need more cops like you.
i think you're the only person on earth who thinks that.
Do you like the show Law & Order SVU?
I love the show, it's a lot of fun to watch and has a lot of interesting and entertaining plots. It's one of the few shows I actually do watch and enjoy.
Great Documentary, really enjoyed it. After watching it, your ex-partner Kenny seemed like he threw you under the bus, especially considering he appeared no less guilty than you. Have you had to work with him since? Do you hold any animosity towards him and his actions?
Bottom line is this: Kenny wishes he never met Me and I wish I never met Kenny. The fact is, I was the best thing that ever happened to Kenny. Not only did he capitalize off of my corrupt activity, he also received a 3/4 disability pension, kept all the ill gotten gains, and he didn't have to do a day because he had me to sacrifice...so, I wish I never met Kenny. He also had not worked with me in 3 years when he decided to set me up - this was left out of the doc.
Yes and no. No for the fact that he decided to cooperate against me, but yes for the way that he tried to set me up for a kidnapping which NEVER was supposed to happen.
What was the single worst thing you saw whilst you was with the NYPD?
I've seen a lot. Heads crushed by trucks...one thing is not worse than the other. I've seen severed body parts, victims rolled up in rugs...
The ugliest thing I saw was a guy in a drug den, fell to his own devices and fell through the floor and got hung up between a floor joist and steam pipe. He was steamed to death by the steam pipe while being hung. This is the worst visual I recall.
What was your most interesting or exciting case ?
As a patrol cop, you don't really handle cases from beginning to end. You respond to emergencies. Some lead to minor investigative work.
A drug dealer shot his best friend over a lovers quarrel. A father killed a new born. On patrol you don't follow through to the end. I've arrested murderers and rapists, but never built an investigation to find one.
In many professional worlds, behavior that may be unethical does not necessarily constitute criminal behavior. Do you feel that the line between unethical and criminal behavior is blurred more-so in law enforcement than other professions? Should ethical violations by police officers be treated more like criminal activities than breaches of professionalism to be handled administratively?
We have a code of conduct in the police department that we must follow. It's expected. You can be terminated for performing unethical behavior as a police officer. I do not think it's blurred, it's black and white. You must live by a code as an officer and then a criminal code. The ethical questions are answered in the book they give us.
No, I think it should be handled administratively, which could lead to termination. Everyone should be held to the same set of rules in the criminal world.
The movie did a good job explaining how police corruption can sometimes be a cyclical/generational problem (corruption gets dealt with, everything is fine, then it comes back again in 20 years or so)...with NYPD corruption occurring over 20 years ago now, do you think widespread corruption has, or will ever, come back around again?
There is always small pockets of corrupt activity, but it will never be systemic as it was in the 70s with Serpico or the 80s with my case. There are many more safeguards in place, and officers are learning today that although they are reluctant to snitch on another, their actions can impact their partner whether they are OK with their behavior or not. Years ago there were no real consequences as long as your partner wouldn't cosign. Today that would not happen.
On the subject of the current climate of policing, it seems that cops today are distrusted more than ever. Not only with the Black Lives Matter movement but in general cops seem to be getting a bad reputation (i.e. having a superiority complex or using excessive force in general). This, with the increased militarization of the police force seems to be creating a very worrying combination. Do you think we are facing a major problem with our police force? If so, how do we fix it? are body cameras enough (they seem to be the main proposed solution)?
The bottom line is that the police today are better trained than ever before. People in general expect a lot more, rightfully so, but the reality is, police have the most difficult job in the world. You call them only when there is an emergency, they are expected to do the job of a robot and still be human.
Body cameras are part of the solution. Non lethal weapons are another step in the right direction. Police officers are being filmed all day long, they should be able to film themselves. Society has evolved, time to step up.
Any actors in mind who you'd like to be portrayed by in the movie version?
Was there never a part of you that was even slightly terrified, dealing with barons of that nature on a weekly basis?
Fascinating documentary, by the way.
I felt like God.
Glad you liked it, thank you!
What was your biggest score in one take down?
How were you treated in prison by other cons?
They had a welcoming mat out for me when I walked into prison.
I was slightly above child molester, not very nice, I walked the track by myself for 12.5 years
In what capacity are you now working with the NYPD?
I am now advising them and providing film footage for internal affairs.
What you learned about life? how has you perspectives have changed towards life & people, what were they before & what are they now?
I learned that everybody deserves a second chance and there are a lot of people that make mistakes.
Things that people do, do not necessarily equate to who they are.
In the seven five what percentage of the cops would you say were corrupt along with you?
Anybody that worked with me.
Thanks for the response!
no problem, thanks for the questions
How do other police officers think of wearing cameras? I think it would help protect officers and civilians but it doesn't seem like the police force is too excited about it...
I am not currently a police officer, however the cameras are coming, so they better get used to it and embrace em for their own protection.
What's the saddest case you've ever been involved with?
the 28 day old baby murdered by his father
Did you for one second think that it may have been Kenny who ratted on you when you turned around & didn't go through with the kidnapping or was it not until you got home that it all came together?
i thought it might be kenny in the back of my mind, i just didn't want to believe it
How was the 55k haul you mentioned as being your biggest score obtained?
Was it the money from the weed dealer?
the hardest thing about scoring money is getting it out of the location. I wasn't working with Kenny at the time, so I had to figure out how to do this on my own
nope, from a coke dealer.
So was Baron also a rat? Being he never showed his face. Seemed a bit ridiculous feds were watching him for that long while all this crazy shit was going on
I don't comment on Baron's status, other than to say he was definitely involved in the activity and he has his own life.
Were all your assets seized when jailed?
Whats your lifestyle like today?
Yes they were.
I live comfortably and work hard.
What would your advice be for people considering going into the NYPD?
Keep your nose clean, do a good job, and realize that you are a public servant. It's not about you.
Do you ever wish you could do everything differently?
I wish I never got involved in corrupt activity. I would be a proud retired police officer in Miami Beach right now.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions :)
How do modern day cops treat you, with disdain or do they respect you for taking the fall yourself & not implicating anybody else?
it's a mixed bag. Some actually have admiration that I didn't give anyone up. Some have disdain because I stained the badge they wear. Hopefully they will get over it one day as I have.
do you think you could have "flourished" as you did for as long as you did with the current mindset of police officers? it seems like police officers are far more willing to "rat" on co-workers.
I could not have flourished, I would've had to have been much more discreet about my rogue activities.
If you came face to face with Kenny tomorrow on the street what would you say?
I'd ask him how he was doing today. I don't have animosity towards Kenny, I just don't like what he did. We've met, and I've made peace with the past.
Is it possible to get promoted by keeping your nose clean in the current system? I would believe that "being good cop" would likely end up with you losing your job?
That's not true. Many good cops get promoted.
Was it a relief for you to testify or was it excruciating having to air it all out?
a combination of both. it was a relief to get out of the cell i was in for two years, once confronted with the circus of the Mollen Commission, Leslie Krane was grilling me with an absurd tone in her voice, when we discussed the same questions a week before casually over coffee. I was not expecting this dog and pony show.
I've been told that policing is not for older people. Do you feel like going into policing in your late 30's, early 40's is a bad idea? Why or why not?
I think 30s and 40s is not a bad idea as long as you are physically capable of handling the activity.
Were you the only one from the seven five to do time or were more arrested after you?
I was the only one from the 7-5 to do time.
What about the female partner you had that you had to drive around the block with, keeping an eye on the apartment with the money in it while chicky went and grabbed it? Were you not hiding what you were doing from her?
She wasn't with me, she just happened to be in the car. Anybody that voluntarily worked with me. If they chose to, they were.
She was an Internal Affairs plant.
Is there a part of you d'you think that nearly wanted to get caught?
I ask because of the incident of driving the flash car to work etc
yes. there is a part of me that was waiting to get caught and happy when it was finally over.
what do you now for a living?
I am still looking for a job, hiring? I am still paying the consequences of my action.
What would you do differently in the nypd?
I would've kept my nose clean, kept my pension, and did the right thing; looking back as a 54 yr old man.
I did 6 years,
yes you did walter, not from my case.
I am not sure I agree. I mean, what would you have done if a "good cop" was your parnter (or however it works). Maybe a better way to put it is, how would you have dealth with a good coop interfering(sp) with you?
Also, how do you feel about Michael Wood? His points seem to show that the system is designed to make "bad cops" winners.
Edit: I have not watched the documentary yet and will when I can, not sure if this is what the flick is about.
I wouldn't have worked with him. You choose your partners.
What was it like being a part of the NYPD? Exciting? Nerve racking?
It was both. It was a real rush
would you recommend your job to others?
the unemployment line does not pay well
Ah, that makes sense! Thanks for the quick responses.
thanks for the questions
Did you keep any of the money?
no, and even had my clean money taken
What's the hardest decision you've had to make while on the job? Also what was the most rewarding?
Every decision when you are an officer gets easier and easier to make because they repeat on a daily basis. Whether it's corruption, or making an arrest, they are difficult, but the more you make em, the easier they get.
Most rewarding, saving several people from a burning building by evacuating people while asleep, and a 2 year old baby by giving him mouth to mouth.
Ahh yes 1980s east new york. I grew up in New York but I was born in 1989 but i've heard stories of its turbulent past. One that stood out is bernhard goetz. Remember him?
Yeah, I remember Bernie, he was a vigilante on the subway. 4-5 kids attacked him with a screwdriver and he was waiting for them.
Were you ever escorting a package or in the middle of a scam when you had to drop it in favour of real police work or a call that came in?
Yeah, that happened 5 times a tour. I stop doing the corrupt activity, handle my police activities. One time, it was the same as the other, I got called to a shooting at a place I was headed to.
Where do I buy the movie? All I am seeing is a link on imdb to amazon pre order (september 15th). Is it out in select theatres or available elsewhere?
yeah there's a link on my site http://themikedowd.com
right now they are doing a re-release next month, it was on VOD on playstation, xbox, iTunes, amazon and comcast, but they're waiting for an event. It's in theaters in the UK starting friday.
Do you think the documentary will in any way further damage the relationship between the police and the public?
I think it will help because they will see how bad it was back then, and realize that while it's not perfect, things are heading in a better direction. once they make technological improvements, those days will be gone forever.
Sir , Do you believe the Seven Five reflects issues nationwide today , or rather how it was in the 90's Brooklyn/NY only ?
I don't think there are levels of corruption like this any more. This is more about the 80's and 90's. I think it provides an illustration that the police forces have continued to improve. And hope that it will produce further change
Did you ever witness any corruption, and if so how much?
Other than my own?
If 1% is really corrupt and about 10% are mildly corrupt and you are saying this publically, won't that get you in trouble?
From the Michael Dowd school of made up statistics, I don't think it holds much water. Thanks for playing.
Since this question is asked on reddit near daily. What is the best way to get off with a warning for a traffic violation such as speeding? Also do officers usually give the 5 above the limit?
Never deny it. Say sorry officer, what can I do. If you have an uncle on the job, let them know and ask for some courtesy. NEVER tell an officer they should be doing something else, wasting your time.
With the 14th anniversary of 9/11 a month away, do you think that the collapse of WTC1, WTC2, & WTC7 was due to more than what the official report indicated? Independent investigators have found explosive evidence in the collapse of the towers, do you feel that explosives may have been used to bring them down? Are you able to share what you have heard other NYPD officers express about this tragic event?
I am not in the knowledge to comment on that although it was a tragic loss of life for everybody.
Better than you.
Thanks, I'll sign you an autograph at the premiere!
Police don't have the most difficult or dangerous job in the world though and acting as such they run the risk of not feeling a situation out and just acting like the military where they feel under threat 24/7.
back in the 80s in East NY Brooklyn, they had the most dangerous job in the world.