Busting Bad Guys: My True Crime Stories of Bookies, Drug Dealers and Ladies of the Night

Busting Bad Guys: My True Crime Stories of Bookies, Drug Dealers and Ladies of the Night

by Mark Langan

ISBN: 9780991311019

Publisher MTL838 LLC

Published in Biographies & Memoirs/Professionals & Academics, Biographies & Memoirs/Memoirs, Biographies & Memoirs/True Crime, Biographies & Memoirs

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Book Description

13 seconds of pure terror in a shootout with a drug dealer...

Real Crime. Real-life cop stories.

Sergeant Mark Langan relives his front-row seat working the seamier side of crime during his decorated 26 year career from youngest rookie in 1978 to narcotics sergeant on the Omaha Police force.

Langan caught bold burglars who silently entered homes to get thrills off of touching sleeping victims. He hit bookie joints in smoke-filled bars, squeezed snitches for information, and arrested prostitutes and their everyday "Johns" in dangerous downtown alleys. neighborhoods to sell crack.

Sample Chapter


I hear this saying all the time, “That guy is a police officer’s police officer,” and I’m here to tell you that Mark Langan is that police officer’s police officer. Few people are born to do what they do; fewer still can honestly say they spent a career doing a job they love. No one tells better stories than cops, and the pages of this book are filled with the stories of a police officer. The danger, the boredom, the fun, the brotherhood, and the excitement when a plan comes together.

Mark Langan is more than a police officer, as you will see. He is a husband, a father, and a servant of the community. To me, Mark is a leader and one of the biggest influences on my career. With his help I learned that drug investigations were my forte, not bank robberies. He taught me that everyone, even the violent drug dealers and gangbangers we dealt with needed to be treated with respect.

I remember one night having dinner with the crew at the Smoke Pit BBQ when Mark and I noticed the parents of a major crack dealer at a nearby table. They noticed us too. When the parents had finished their meal, the crack dealer’s mother came over to our table. I thought, Oh, man, she is just going to rip us, but I was wrong. She told us that she knew her son had done wrong and deserved to be in the penitentiary but thanked us for treating her son fairly.

In the fall of 2004 I was working a case with Gary Kula, who figures prominently in the first chapter of this book, when I got a call from Mark. He needed to talk to me about something important. We met, and to my shock, Mark informed me that he was thinking about retiring from the force. He told me he had a chance to take a job supervising the animal control officers at the Nebraska Humane Society.

I can vividly remember saying, “So you wanna be the dog catcher?” Wrong again. Mark brought the same energy and enthusiasm to that job he brought to the Omaha Police Department. He is much more than a dog catcher. He is Vice-President of Field Operations for the Nebraska Humane Society and has made an indelible change to the job of the animal control officer. Because of Mark’s efforts it’s now a felony, punishable by jail time, to mistreat an animal. The officers work animal cruelty cases and even write search warrants.

This is the story of a man who was born to be a police officer but became so much more. How many people can say they made a difference in their community, every day, from the age of eighteen to well into their fifties? I am proud to call Mark Langan my friend.

Bill Nellis

FBI Special Agent

Omaha Field Office


My high school counselor told me I was too sensitive to be a cop. I told myself he was wrong. However, these guys are counselors for a reason. They see things in the kids that we don’t see ourselves. Or that we are too immature and bullheaded to admit.

Being an Omaha Police Officer changed me drastically in twenty-six years on the job from 1978 to 2004. There are parts of my personality I don’t like. In fact, I’ve worked hard since retirement to change dark aspects of who I am.

Change is tough.

For years others have told me I can be moody, intimidating, or appear sullen at times. I never try to act this way on purpose and actually work hard at making people feel comfortable when interacting with me.

At times I feel as though I have two personalities. I can be warm, outgoing, and the type of person who makes others feel comfortable to be around. Yet at times, when my past catches up to me, I can change and become that mysterious guy who causes others to wonder what’s going through my head.

They never saw the “movies” I saw played out on the streets of Omaha all those years in uniformed patrol, working Burglary, Vice, and finally many years undercover in Narcotics—the worst of humanity: kids who were killed, abused, or forced to live a life of constant fear; kids living like prisoners in their own homes or never allowed outside to play because their drug-abusing parents never understood why kids needed to go to school or have a rich life; women who were beaten daily and grew to accept that; drug users whose arms were covered with track marks and never knew what day it was or struggled just for survival, hour to hour.

One little girl, probably five or six, walked up to me after we had bashed her front door down with a battering ram and arrested her mom and dad for selling methamphetamine. She hugged my legs sobbing, “Please don’t let anybody hurt me.”

I’ve finally figured out the real reason I’m writing this memoir. It’s time for my family to hear the whole story, not just the tamer parts of my career I thought they could handle.

I saw things I couldn’t share and experienced emotions I couldn’t find the words to tell them about. My wife and two kids certainly knew what I did for a living. Their husband and dad was a cop who worked at night, often slept in late, and was gone for many family functions.

They rarely knew what I saw, heard, and felt when I came home at night after a rough day on the streets of Omaha. I wanted to protect them from the atrocities I experienced, especially the heinous situations involving kids. Little do my own children know the number of times I checked on them before I went to bed in the wee hours of the night, making sure they were safe, comfortable, and warm. Hours earlier I had seen kids of the same age living in filth, cockroaches running throughout their bedrooms, being parented by pieces of crap who put more value on their next hit of crack than making sure their own kids were safe.

I wish I would have shared my experiences more with my family, but I cannot go back in time to do so. Only after my retirement do I feel that my kids fully understood and appreciated what I did, and that’s my fault. I should have been more open to them with my feelings about this damn job.

That’s the reason for this book. I want my wife, kids, grandson, and future grandkids to know what the old guy did. I’m not looking to sensationalize my career by any means. Rather, I owe it to them to tell the whole story, the good and the bad, to make up for all the hours lost with them during my police career.

Turns out my counselor, Brother Richard Murphy at Roncalli Catholic High School, was a wise man. Maybe I am too sensitive. I had trouble sleeping for years. Insomnia is a cruel monster. After I retired from the Omaha Police Department, sleep became easier, as my mind raced less late at night.

Once I started writing this book, the cruel monster returned. Lying sleepless in bed late at night has forced me to relive the sights and sounds of little kids shaking and crying, scared to death that really bad things are going to happen to them—worse than they’d already been through. In way too many cases I personally saw these little angels forced to endure atrocities that most people cannot comprehend.

Cops are not “most people,” which is why I still lie awake at night. Let me tell you what happened on the nights I patrolled your streets.



On Valentine’s Day 2002, Officer Gary Kula and I shot and killed thirty-seven-year-old Jose Chavez near the intersection of 28th and Madison in South Omaha—a working-class neighborhood of mostly small one-story homes overshadowed by massive mature trees, with plenty of cars parked along narrow streets with wide sidewalks.

In some ways I’m surprised I hadn’t been involved in a shooting earlier in my career with the Omaha Police Department. After all, this officer-involved shooting occurred during my twenty-fourth year on the job and fourteenth year in the Narcotics Unit.

I cannot begin to count the number of armed drug dealers my crew had arrested up to this fateful night. We had chased armed suspects through dark yards, knocked down motel room doors, finding perps on beds next to semi-automatic rifles, and were fired upon by a sniper while serving a crack warrant in 1992.

The odds were bound to catch up to us sooner or later that someone—either a member of my crew or I—would be involved in a shooting where either one of us, or the suspect, would be killed or seriously injured.

Yet the chances of police officers using their firearms to kill someone are remote at best. There are close to a million cops in the United States, with an average of three hundred fatal shootings a year by police officers.

Bad guys shoot cops too. Sadly, over the past ten years law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty every fifty-seven hours. One hundred and twenty died in 2012. So far, 19,981 names are engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

I sure never wanted to be one of them, but standing in the street that night … the thought crossed my mind. Ironically, in the past ten years most officer-involved shootings have occurred on a Thursday. What is the significance of Thursday for violence toward police officers? I have no clue, but February 14, 2002, was a Thursday.

This particular day started out no differently than all the others, but it ended up to be a defining moment for Gary’s career and mine. We had shot a man who died on the street. Never before had we been the subjects of a criminal investigation, with our coworkers reading us Miranda warnings and refusing to talk to us outside of the investigation. And never before had a grand jury convened to determine if we should be indicted for murder.

Was I a killer? I was trained to kill in the police academy. I wore a gun to work every day. I was prepared to shoot to kill. But I had never fired my gun outside the shooting range until the night of February 14, 2002.


Excerpted from "Busting Bad Guys: My True Crime Stories of Bookies, Drug Dealers and Ladies of the Night" by Mark Langan. Copyright © 2014 by Mark Langan. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Mark Langan

Mark Langan

Mark Langan retired after a twenty-six-year career with the Omaha Police Department. In 1978 Mark was the youngest police officer ever hired on the Omaha Police Department at age eighteen. He worked as a uniformed officer and as a detective in the Burglary, Vice, and Narcotics Units. Mark was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1988, working as a supervisor in the Narcotics Unit until his retirement in 2004. During his career Mark wrote nationally published articles on various law enforcement topics and lectured throughout the country. Recognized as a court-authorized expert on narcotics investigations, Mark testified hundreds of times in both state and federal court. Mark is certified in teaching workplace violence and active shooter training for employees in private corporations. He has appeared on national news programs including The Nancy Grace Show, CNN, and The Today Show. Mark was awarded the Omaha Police Department’s highest honors: the Medal of Valor for his actions in the Chavez shooting and the Distinguished Service Medal for his work in the Narcotics Unit, and numerous commendations over the years. From 2000 to 2008 Mark was appointed by the Governor to the Judicial Nominating Commission and was involved in selecting candidates for judgeships in Nebraska. Mark is now Vice-President of Field Operations for the Nebraska Humane Society where he is responsible for the investigation of crimes involving animals. He has continued writing articles for national law enforcement publications and is a recognized national speaker on animal cruelty and dog fighting issues. He serves as a consultant on security and law enforcement topics for private clients. Mark and his wife, Annette, live in Omaha with their black Labrador Laci.

View full Profile of Mark Langan

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