OMAHA, Neb — Even though Mark Langan’s law enforcement experience has never been in a town the size of Creston, the former Omaha police officer has family roots in small-town Iowa.
Langan, 56, the author of the novel “Busting Bad Guys: My True Crime Stories of Bookies, Drug Dealers and Ladies of the Night,” visited Creston to speak to Creston Rotary Club members thanks to his father-in-law Roger Turk, a retired Creston veterinarian.
“I’m really excited that he came to Creston and that he was able to share with the Rotary,” said Brenda Strauss, Langan’s sister-in-law. “He’s traveled all over to promote his book, which I think is exciting.”
Busting Bad Guys
“Busting Bad Guys,” Langan’s debut novel, came after a little prodding from family and friends.
“For years, people told me I should write a book because I had so many stories, both from my uniformed patrol days and my vice squad,” Langan said. “I never thought I could ever really write a book.”
He sat down to write and “a floodgate opened.” He wrote 10,000 words before contacting an editor, who said to contact her when he was finished. After eight months of typing away, Langan had 80,000 words and began cutting stories from the first manuscript.
The book looks at Langan’s rise to law enforcement as the youngest police officer ever hired in Omaha, Nebraska. He attended Creighton University in Omaha but dropped out to attend the police academy at 18 years old. By the time he was 19 years old, he was on the department.
“I had to mature at a very accelerated rate because I had a lot of responsibilities thrown on me at the age of 19,” Langan said.
The words in Langan’s book tell the story of his days as an officer beginning in 1978. He was a uniformed officer for the first five years before moving to the vice squad for a few years. He spent 18 years undercover with the narcotics division before being promoted as sergeant, where he supervised high-level drug investigations for 16 years. Langan retired in 2004.
“I was not too surprised that he decided to write a book because he’s so knowledgeable and great at expressing himself,” Strauss said. “A lot of those chapters, I had no idea that Mark experienced a lot of those things, all those years that he’s been in my life.”
As a kid, Langan knew he wanted to be in law enforcement thanks to his father being a U.S. marshal.
“When I was a little kid, I had a police scanner, so I listened to all the police calls. By the time I was 10 years old, I knew all the police codes and I knew all the streets,” Langan said. “I was around law enforcement my whole life, so on the weekends we’d go down to the federal courthouse, and we got to play in the jail cells and in the courtrooms of the federal judges.”
After marrying his wife Annette, who is sisters with Strauss, Langan worked the night shift for the first 23 years of their marriage.
“She basically raised our two kids because I was off at night chasing bad guys,” Langan said. “She was a huge supporter of my law enforcement career, Annette was.”
Together, they have two children: Katie, 33, and Tommy, 30.
After years as an officer, Strauss said she is proud of her brother-in-law.
“We’ll go out to eat, and he always recognizes them (people he’s arrested), and treats everybody with the utmost respect, whether they’re a felon or a regular person,” Strauss said. “I’m very proud of him for that.”
Currently, Langan works at Nebraska Humane Society as vice president of field operations. There, he is in charge of the law enforcement branch of the society, which focuses on neglect and abuse of animals. He’s been there for about 10 years.
“Busting Bad Guys” is in its second year of publication, and after a book tour and book signing events, Langan’s novel has been an Amazon bestseller three separate times.
“The thing about cops I always tell people is, we’re not better than anyone else, but we’re different than anyone else because of what we see,” Langan said. “We see the worst society has to offer and we see the best. We see it all.”
Langan said his goal for when people read his novel is for them to understand that, even in a large city like Omaha, officers have to deal with a lot of different situations, especially on the night shift.
During his speaking event at the local rotary club, Langan was glad to have been a guest.
“My father-in-law accompanied to the rotary, so he was there, which was kind of fun. Right away he walked in and knew everybody there,” Langan said. “It was kind of fun coming to Creston. I think it’s fantastic because they (rotary members) are all dedicated to helping their community.”
Langan said he may be back for another speaking event at a Creston Lion’s Club meeting.
“Small-town law enforcement has challenges that big-city law enforcement doesn’t have. There’s crime everywhere, but being a police officer in a small town is so personalized,” Langan said. “I have a lot of respect for small-town police officers because it’s just as dangerous a job.”
Langan's book is currently available online at Amazon.com and his website, www.bustingbadguys.com. More information about the book can be found on www.goodreads.com and Facebook through a search of "Busting Bad Guys." Langan also donated a copy of "Busting Bad Guys" to Gibson Memorial Library in Creston.