The arrest and subsequent conviction of former NYPD Police Officer Michael Dowd highlighted the perils of decades long corruption that plagued many precincts in the New York City Police Department. Dowd and several other officers had engaged in a multitude of crimes ranging from narcotics trafficking and possession, armed robbery and accessories to murder . Several had even violated department protocol by appearing for work under the influence of alcohol or narcotics or sometimes both. When the scandal in the 75th precinct made headlines, a whole city was stunned and for many, it confirmed many of their beliefs about the NYPD being a corrupt agency full of crooked cops. The fallout from the scandal would force Mayor David Dinkins and Police commissioner Lee Brown to act quickly. The Mollen Commission was created to investigate the pattern of police corruption that had been plaguing the City of New York. Its final report was published in July, 1994 and remains freely available for those interested in one of the darkest periods in New York City history.
One nagging question that never went away was how was Dowd and the other cops allowed to operate for so long without being noticed? The official story was that their activities were well hidden from prying eyes. However, the late Mike McAlary (1957-1998) who worked for the NY Daily News for 12 years, brings us the story of retired officer Joseph Tromboli who pursued Dowd for several years before he was apprehended by Suffolk County detectives in a separate drug trafficking case. And what we learn in Tromboli’s story sheds light on the repeated failures of the Internal Affairs Division of the NYPD to remove Dowd from the NYPD and formally charge him with the many crimes he had been freely committing. A seasoned investigator and no-nonsense officer, Tromboli dedicated his life to catching down and in the process sacrificed his own happiness and many important parts of his life. His efforts however, were not in vain and upon the publishing of the scandal in the City’s newspapers and the Mollen Commission that followed, Tromboli would be vindicated as the cop who had tried but was prevented from bringing down the most corrupt cop in New York City history. This is his story and the good, the bad and the ugly side of the blue wall.
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