Episode 84 – From The Academy To The Street With Patrick O’Donnell

In this episode, Mark interviews Patrick O’Donnell who has been with a larger metropolitan police department for the past three decades, about his new book COPS AND WRITERS: From The Academy to the Street.

Prior to the interview,Mark shares a personal update and then also shares the names of the four winners of the print copies of the book UNSKIPPABLE by Jim Kukral (from Episode 81) and thanks his Patrons from over at for their support.

Before the main segment, Mark shares a personal update as well as a word from this episode’s sponsor Findaway Voices . . .

In their conversion, which comes with a disclaimer that Patrick does not represent any specific police or law enforcement agency and does not intend for any of the information provided to be intended as legal advice, Mark and Patrick discuss:

  • Patrick’s life before police work which included Sociology, Crimonology and an intense passion for music
  • The original goal of wanting to become a high school band director for his career
  • The restaurant management roles that Patrick was involved in and how being a night shift manager at an IHOP he ended up getting in more fights than in the same time period as a police officer
  • The various different ways you can get into a career with the police department and the details related to those methods of entry
  • Learning how to read/understand people via experience as a car salesman
  • The book (I Never Wore Plaid) he wrote about how to buy a car and navigate car salespeople under a pseudonym
  • The unfortunate situation that led to the loss of an opportunity in selling this book to a publisher
  • Patrick’s book talking about the loss of his marriage (which is common in the police force) written under a different pseudoynm – Divorced Dad: Kids are Forever, Wives are Not
  • Mad City, the post-apocalyptic novel that he wrote under his own name
  • The reason why Patrick shelved the sequel to Mad City and started to write a series of books about the police force, which includes the first book, Cops and Writers: From the Academy to the Street
  • The seventeen years of working the night shift as a cop
  • The 50/50 chance that the average person has of their marriage failing, how being a cop bumps that up to 70% and how, if both partners are cops, the chances are 90%
  • Some of the basic things that writers can get wrong when it comes to police procedures or protocols
  • What Patrick has learned about book marketing through the various books and genres he has published in

After the interview, Mark shares details on how listeners and Patrons can win a print copy of Patrick’s new book (you have until July 31, 2019, to leave a comment or question for Patrick on the show notes for Episode 84 at

He also shares his thoughts on the importance of a police procedural book that delves into such detail of this aspect of a police officer’s life.

Links of Interest

Patrick O’Donnell has been with a large metropolitan police department for the last twenty-four years, seventeen of those as a street sergeant. That means he has been a supervisor on the street for the bulk of his career. When testifying in court, he is considered an expert in police procedure. He is also an author of fiction and nonfiction. He understands theunique author point of view and can see through a writer’s eyes. He loves helping authors write authentic, accurate, and believable stories.

8 thoughts on “Episode 84 – From The Academy To The Street With Patrick O’Donnell”

  1. hope you enjoy your standing desk. don’t take it too far all at once. The first day I stood up all day and ending up really hurting my sciatic nerve. I write an organized crime series dealing with the yakuza so it was fun to hear Patrick talked about “the other side” of crime.

  2. Great Interview, Mark.

    I do have a couple questions for Patrick.

    What is the difference between Sheriffs and Cops? I have a friend who is a cop and they look down on Sheriffs but I think it is just a rivalry thing. I feel they also look down on the cops in rich neighborhoods compared to cops in normal neighborhoods. But besides that aside, what is the difference between the two jobs and when you get more rural do they have more power than city cops?

    Finally do you have any good resources on rangers or marshalls? I have been kicking around an idea of Texas Rangers in space, but was curious what their jurisdiction and powers would be.


    1. “Cops” police officers jurisdiction is the city where they work. They have a “Chief” or “Superintend” that is appointed by some type of Fire and Police commission.

      Sheriff Deputies jurisdiction is the county where they work. The Sheriff is an elected position.

      City officers I know don’t look down on deputies. It’s just a different job. The sheriff’s department is responsible for the county jail and security for the courts. In a large metro area like where I work, the sheriff’s are responsible for the freeways, jail, airport, court security, county parks and county transit.

      I’m not really sure about Texas Rangers, there must be a website for that.

  3. A fun listen. My stories are epic fantasies, so here’s my question: if you got to create a fictional universe/world, what three questions would you ask to shape the various police functions for different nations in that world? Asked a different way: what considerations do you see sci-fi and fantasy writers forget when creating fictional worlds/governments? Thanks again for your service!

    1. I would model an imaginary police force after a real one. Keep that one’s rank structure, specialty units, etc.. That way you have consistency.
      It is your story, so you can mold it any way you feel fit.

      I would do the same with the government. If you want it to be a democracy, find one like the U.S.A. and model it after that.

    2. Congrats, MZ – your name came up in the random selection of a free copy of Patrick’s book! I’ll ship the copy your way if you can let me know how to get it to me by emailing me at Thx.

  4. I always forget to leave a comment because I’m alternating the new episodes with the old ones until I catch up. I’m enjoying them, though =]

    For Patrick, I was wondering about second world epic fantasy settings. What are the core tenets for making up a new police system from whole cloth? What are some things to keep in mind?

    I’m not ambitious enough to make a fantasy detective series, but I’d love to make sure that when any sort of police-style force intersects with the plot, they’re portrayed in a way that feels authentic.

    1. I would do what I just suggested to MZ LOWE.

      I would model your police department after a real one like I explained in the post above.

      The only exception to that rule would be if you wanted something “Judge Dread” like. I think you could have a lot of fun with that!

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