Getting to know Mike O’Connor
Our team at Peregrine is made up of dedicated individuals with deep law enforcement experience and technologists committed to supporting public safety. We will be periodically highlighting what makes Peregrine most special – the people. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Major Mike O’Connor, formerly of the Atlanta Police Department, is an experienced law enforcement veteran who recently joined Peregrine as a Public Safety Executive. Read on for five questions with Mike.
Tell us a little about your professional background.
I recently retired after 27 years of service with the Atlanta Police Department (ATL PD), a journey that began in 1996 when I was hired onto the job during the Atlanta Olympics. My initial assignment – like almost every member of law enforcement – was as a patrol officer at a precinct, working the midnight shift for the first four years. After that, I joined an auto theft task force, where our mission was to retrieve stolen vehicles and apprehend the perpetrators.
I was promoted to the rank of detective and began working with the Special Victims Unit, focusing primarily on adult sexual crimes and supporting victims. Like much of my career, this was incredibly challenging but meaningful work through which I was able to help people. When I made Sergeant a year later, I went back to patrol for six weeks, after which I was assigned to the precinct’s Criminal Investigations Division to handle everything but major crimes.
Later, I led the Crime Suppression Team, a specialized unit that doesn’t respond to 911 calls. We dealt with issues beyond the capacity of regular patrol officers, who are already stretched thin in many major city departments across the country. My journey took me to the Homeland Security Department where I worked on high priority security initiatives and infrastructure security until 2010.
I then served in Precincts 1 and 4, alternating between leading patrol and criminal investigations. After leading that team for a year, I attended the Northwest School of Police Staff and Command. That was followed by an assignment to a regional auto theft task force team, which I thoroughly enjoyed and where I saw the benefit of sharing information across agencies up close. I didn’t know it at the time, but that work set me on a path that really led me to where I am today, at Peregrine.
Later, I was asked by a deputy chief to consider a role in crime analysis. After four months, I was promoted to Captain and transferred to Homicide, where I led the team for a year. My next appointment was as the Assistant Zone Commander for Zone 1, after which I was promoted to Major.
During my tenure as Major, I took on four assignments: Special Enforcement Commander, (overseeing narcotics), Major Crimes (for 18 months), Homicide, and Special Victims, managing the investigations into several high-profile cases. At the time, our homicide clearance rate was 89% at the time of my transfer – well above the national average of 59% – an achievement I’m very proud of.
I was then assigned to Corporate Services, where I managed background investigations and HR. By the end of 2019, I met my goal of hiring at least 200 new officers. Police departments across the country have been struggling with recruitment and retention for years, so bringing in hundreds of new recruits to serve and protect Atlanta made a meaningful difference for our city.
My responsibilities extended and evolved to community services and special operations as a division commander upon my promotion to Deputy Chief. I oversaw contingency operations for special events and the Real-Time Crime Center (RTCC). As a tech leaning leader, I was responsible for the management and operations of all technology across the entire Atlanta Police Department and regularly interfaced with city leadership, including the Mayor’s office, to ensure alignment between elected officials, the Atlanta community, and the department. That’s how I ended my nearly three-decades long career working for the people of Atlanta.
What made you want to want to join Peregrine?
I firmly believe that Peregrine has developed the best public safety product in the market. Our honesty about our capabilities and limitations sets us apart. As someone who has interacted with dozens of vendors, seen demos, and experienced – often firsthand – numerous overpromises, I can confidently say that Peregrine never oversells or makes exaggerated claims.
Beyond that, one of Peregrine’s differentiators is our ability to interface with almost any system, transforming the data into a usable, clear, and concise format within our platform. Our solution is significantly ahead of the competition. We can help agencies make sense of their data across siloed systems, without needing to access each individual system.
Which company values resonate with you the most?
Honesty is paramount, especially from a sales perspective. Now that I’m on the other side of the table, I appreciate when people are upfront about their product’s strengths. They should be able to demonstrate live data or real examples, showing exactly what their product can do without overstating its capabilities.
Dishonesty, particularly overselling or making promises that are not delivered upon, is highly detrimental. I value honest communication above all else.
What motivates you?
When I decided to assume a leadership role, my perspective was significantly influenced by my father, a military officer. He instilled a clear understanding of what leadership truly means in me. The principle I always strive to uphold is to empower people to do their jobs well, by removing any obstacles that hinder their performance. My focus is on how I can facilitate their work, provide the necessary support, and then step back to allow them to excel.
What superpower do you think you have, and how are you bringing that to Peregrine?
I didn’t realize it initially, but I’ve worked with many companies through the years that have highlighted a unique skill of mine: the ability to foster cooperation between different entities. I have a knack for facilitating collaboration across teams and even across company lines, which is vital when we need systems to function seamlessly.
Persuading different parties to prioritize the public good is necessary, and my ability to stimulate collaboration and facilitate necessary conversations has become my distinctive strength in the field.
Connect with Mike on LinkedIn and check out three recommended impact studies and blogs from Mike:
- Championing community engagement and crime prevention, with the Newark Police Department
- Modernizing CompStat for the 21st Century
- Three Trends Facing Police Chiefs in 2023
Questions? Get in touch today.