James O'Keefe '79SVC

James O’Keefe, Ph.D. ’79SVC graduated from St. John’s University in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.  Shortly after graduation, he began his career in law enforcement as a police officer in Texas with the Houston Police Department: “For the ten years that I was with the Houston Police Department, I served as a uniformed and undercover police officer assigned to the Vice Squad specifically to investigate narcotics and child pornography cases. I ended up becoming a Special Assistant to the Chief of Patrol,” says Dr. O’Keefe. During that time he was the recipient of numerous commendations for excellent police service and was the first recipient of the 100 Club of Houston-Law Enforcement Scholarship. Dr. O’Keefe completed his Master’s degree in police science and administration and, in 1989, was awarded a Ph.D. in criminal justice administration from Sam Houston State University.  

Upon his return to New York City, in 1981, O’Keefe became the Associate Director of the Office of Management & Budget for the New York City Transit Police Department.  He was soon promoted to Director of Training when the first independent New York City Transit Police Academy was established.  The Transit Police Academy went on to develop several specialty recruit and in-service training courses specially designed to implement the new crime reduction strategies and tactics which ultimately helped reduce crime on the New York City subway system by 48.8%: “In that professional capacity, I was responsible for the education and training of 40,000 uniformed and 15,000 civilian members of the service, with an operating budget of $26.7 million.”  Under Dr. O’Keefe’s leadership, the New York City Police Academy was frequently recognized with many awards and honors, including the NYPD’s “Unit Citation Award” given for the first time by Police Commissioner Howard Safir during Medal Day Ceremonies.

Dr. James O’Keefe retired from the New York City Police Department in 2001 and became an Associate professor of Criminal Justice at St. John’s University, where he currently serves as Associate Dean & Professor.  Dr. O’Keefe now teaches undergraduate and graduate seminars in police administration, public policy and law enforcement leadership.  He has published many scholarly articles and books, including “Protecting the Republic: The Education & Training of American Police Officers.  He is frequently called upon as an expert witness in law enforcement policies and practices, and is a recognized internationally as an expert in law enforcement education and training.