Criminal Investigator
Westchester District Attorney's Office 



He enrolled at Mercy College because he thought the Dobbs Ferry campus was so beautiful. He worked full time on campus security and managed a two-hour commute. He also had a successful career in law enforcement, and has now returned to college to earn an advanced degree in public administration. For James O'Donnell, the first in his Bronx family to even attend college, hard work and commitment to his goals began with his first job...when he was only 13. That drive and determination has led to many opportunities, signifi cant accomplishments, and service to others.


Despite a busy course schedule and full time job while a student at Mercy College, James was also active in student government, intramural softball, and weekend leadership programs. By his senior year in the Criminal Justice program, he was hired by the White Plains Police Department and finished his schooling at night. During his ten years with the Department, he worked as a patrol officer, field-training officer, plain-clothes street crime officer, and detec tive of general investigations. He specialized in credit card fraud and identity theft. As a crime prevention practitioner, he lectured throughout the region, from the Westchester Police Academy to IBM. The White Plains Police Department honored O'Donnell with many letters of commendation and PBA Awards of Merit for Distinguished Police Work. He was also awarded the Commissioner's Award for Life Saving, and the Mayor's Meritorious Duty Award.


A committed volunteer, James was active in Mount Vernon's Meals on Wheels Program delivering meals to AIDS shut-in patients. More recently, he worked the bucket brigade at the World Trade Center, an experience he cites as one of his life's most extraordinary: “As the buildings were still burning, I realized how precious life is and how it can change in a matter of a moment."


James is pursuing his Master's degree in Public Administration at Marist College and lives with his wife and four children in Dutchess County, James continues to enjoy a variety of activities including traveling, baseball, softball, and scuba diving.