Mark Langan is a retired Omaha Police Department Sergeant who spent 26 years on the force and recently published a book about his experiences entitled Busting Bad Guys: My True Crime Stories of Bookies, Drug Dealers, and Ladies of the Night. When we reached out to Mark and asked him to join our board, he graciously accepted and looks forward to being an active member. His experience will greatly benefit our foundation and we are so excited to welcome him!
We recently sat down with Mark and asked him about his history with the police department, his book, and some of his experiences while he was on the force. Make sure to check out the interview below, and you can learn more and pick up a copy of his book on his website.
You’re a retired OPD narcotics sergeant. Can you tell us a little about your career?
My dad was a US Marshal here in Omaha, so I have been around law enforcement my whole life. As a kid, I had a police scanner I would listen to all the time. I took the test when I was 18, and was hired as the youngest police officer ever. My parents were mad that I didn’t go to college, but it was the dream I always had. I write in the book about how I had to mature very quickly. I was answering homicide calls, child welfare checks, and other things most 19 year olds don’t have to deal with.
Uniform patrol was the best 5 years of my career, because you never knew what call you were going to get. The adrenalin starts flowing. I went from there to the criminal investigations bureau in 1983 and stayed there for 21 years until I retired. I was in the burglary unit for two years, vice squad for two years, and then the narcotics unit for 17.
What made you decide to write a memoir of your life cracking down on the streets? Did you have a ghost writer or did you write everything yourself?
I wrote it all myself in only six months. I’ve always been a writer. I wrote a lot of articles for law enforcement journals. I thought about writing a book for many years, and people would always tell me to write a book.
In 2013 I sat down and wrote the first chapter, and the floodgates opened. I had kept scrapbooks of all my cases, and I would frame my chapters with them and go back and research. Midway through the process, I hired an editor, and she really liked what she saw and told me to keep writing. She had to do very little editing, and I was really glad that the majority of these words were my words. She really helped with chapter organization and flow. Then I hired a marketing company and self-published.
The book became an Amazon best-seller in the true crime and law enforcement categories. It’s been featured in all Omaha media. I have done national radio interviews in Boston, Montreal, Minneapolis, and Southern Florida. Since February, I’ve done 60 book signings.
What was the worst thing you saw while on the force?
Any case involving kids in abusive relationships or drug-dealing situations. Kids are secondary in those situations, and my job is to get them out and put them in foster care and then forget about them. If I dwelled, I wouldn’t have lasted 26 years. I’d come home at night and always go into my kids’ bedrooms to make sure they were there and were safe.
Omaha has a lot of issues with gang violence and drugs. In your opinion, what will stop it?
Restore the family structure. And economic development in these low-income areas over time would help restore vitality to these families. I also stress that these problems involving dysfunctional families is not just a North Omaha problem. We had plenty of kids in Millard, Northwest Omaha, and Southwest omaha. North Omaha gets a bad rep, but there’s gang activity and drug activity citywide. But yes by far the most violent crime occurs in North Omaha.
What was your best moment on the force?
It’s hard to single out one, but it’s amazing the number of people I find that I once arrested who now come up to me at book signings and events that say thank you for saving my life. I get asked two questions from people I’ve arrested: an excited “Am I in the book?” and “Please tell me I’m not in the book.” That’s the best part, when they say they’re doing great and thank me and my officers. One guy came up and said, “You know what I remember about you? Before I went to jail, you let me smoke a cigarette. Thank you.”
What made you decide to join the First Responders Foundation board?
I’ve known the foundation for many years and think it’s a great organization to support public safety here in Omaha, and I’ve benefitted from some of the equipment it has purchased. I was approached to be on the board by Ray Somberg. I knew and had admired his work from afar, and was floored that I would be asked to be on the board and readily accepted. I want to be very active at the fundraising and social events and spread the word through my book events. Whatever Ray needs, if I’m available, I’ll be there.
Thanks so much for your support, Mark, and congratulations on the success of your book! Remember, you can pick up a copy of Busting Bad Guys at http://www.bustingbadguys.com/.