The Incredible True Story of Precinct Seven Five
Precinct Seven Five is not an easy watch, but rather makes for compulsive, fascinating and extremely tense viewing, charting a highly turbulent era in the history of the New York Police Department.
During the crack cocaine explosion of the 1980s and 90s, a New York City police officer led a crew of cops within the department to build his own empire in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in Brooklyn. Michael Dowd, referred to in headlines as “The Dirtiest Cop Ever”, turned the department’s 75th Precinct into the most notorious group of dirty cops, offering protection for drug dealers, robbing their ally's rivals and stealing cash and drugs, all while wearing the badge. He worked closely with his partner and friend Kenny Eurell, building relationships with crime bosses and gaining a reputation through extracurricular ventures that earned them in excess of $4,000 per week, so much that they sometimes forgot to collect their actual work paychecks.
Eventually, Dowd's arrest in 1992 led to the largest police corruption scandal in New York City history and this retrospective story makes for a compelling, almost unbelievable retelling.
Told through talking head interviews with Dowd, Eurell, their colleagues on both sides of the law and the cops who investigated them, the events are further unraveled through surveillance footage, crime scene photography and tape recordings showcasing key events spanning Dowd's rise and fall. This is also where we witness the charisma and unique personalities behind each of the men, who draw us in through their detailed retelling of events.
If you, too, are fascinated by true crime stories, the history of the police or the controversial issue of police corruption, this is a truly eye-opening account. What's interesting is that, as an audience, being somewhat desensitised by movies like Serpico, Cop Land, Narc, or even landmark TV series like The Shield (my favourite show to this day) it still doesn't detract from the shock factor of true stories like these, certainly not for the faint of heart. And as a documentary, lacking the sugar-coated Hollywood spin, there's less need for a neat resolve. It just is.
In short, truth really is stranger than fiction and Precinct Seven Five is a truly riveting, must-see documentary.
Precinct Seven Five is out now on DVD and digital download.