Criminal Justice Graduates Lead Motor Vehicle Division

When George O’Donnell and Paul Steier graduated from Mount Mercy’s criminal justice program in 1989 they had no way of knowing that one day they would simultaneously hold the two highest-ranking positions in the Cedar Rapids division of Motor Vehicle Enforcement.

George O'Donnell '89
George O'Donnell '89

Although the men were attracted to Mount Mercy for different reasons, both graduated with solid professional foundations that paved the way for future success. O’Donnell took advantage of Mount Mercy’s flexible night classes as he worked full time as an investigator. Steier enrolled because he was impressed with the personal attention he received from a Mount Mercy admission representative.

The men worked extensively together at the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) Motor Vehicle Enforcement Investigative Unit, which O’Donnell joined in 1979 and Steier in 1992. In 1999 O’Donnell was promoted to Captain, the second highest-ranking position. Steier was promoted to Major in 2008, the highest-ranking position.

Paul Steier '89
Paul Steier '89

The men’s careers have spanned everything from helping the Secret Service catch a fugitive wanted for a connection to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, to aiding the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in catching a 76-year-old man who had stolen over $400,000 worth of property.

“I was just a farm kid from North Central Iowa,” says Steier. “To me, Cedar Rapids was a big thing, and there were numerous faculty and staff, including the Sisters of Mercy, who took me under their wing and looked out for me,” he says. O’Donnell retired from the division of Motor Vehicle Enforcement in February, but attributes his success to his Mount Mercy education. “The education I received at Mount Mercy gave me a broad perspective on society and individuals that enhanced my skills as an Investigator and later as a Supervisor,” he says.