Dick Tracy Wiki
Chief of Police Jim Doherty

Born in:

San Francisco, CA

Chief of Police Jim Doherty was the technical advisor to the Dick Tracy creative team from 2011 through 2015.

Early Life and Education[]

Jim Doherty was born in San Francisco, California, where his dad introduced him to mystery fiction, before he could even read, by faithfully reading the Dick Tracy strip to him every Sunday. This interest in the Dick Tracy comic strip, and in crime fiction in general, along with his having both a grandfather and an uncle (among other family members) working in law enforcement, inspired him to pursue a career in police work himself.

After graduating from Bellarmine Prep, a Jesuit high school in San Jose, California, Jim earned a bachelor's degree at the University of California at Berkeley. During his undergraduate years, he began his law enforcement career, first as a civilian employee of the campus police, then as a part-time police officer with the Berkeley Police Department.


A few years after graduating from Cal, Doherty moved to Chicago, Illinois (the purported inspiration for Dick Tracy's City), where he worked in federal law enforcement. 

Shortly after his arrival in Chicago, he met Kathryn Kozlowski, a native of Illinois, at a young adults’ event sponsored by Holy Name Cathedral, the church they both attended. The two fell in love and were married shortly afterwards.

Doherty lived in Chicago with his wife, Katy, while serving in several law enforcement positions, including a stint as a sergeant in the police force of a national railroad serving 46 states.

More recently, Doherty, has moved to a small town in rural, agricultural part of the Midwest, where he serves as the Chief of Police.

Writing Career[]

Shortly after meeting Katy, Doherty began to write crime fiction, true crime, and critical articles about crime fiction and its history.  His works were accepted by various magazines and anthology publications. His first book, Just the Facts – True Tales of Cops & Criminals, was a collection of true crime articles. Many of them had been published previously, but a few of them were original to the book.

His second book, Raymond Chandler – Master of American Noir, was a collection of lectures about the esteemed creator of the fictional private eye Philip Marlowe. It was an e-book used as the text for an online class about Chandler that Barnes & Noble Booksellers offered on their website (which Doherty was also hired to teach), and was only made available to students of that course. This was a work-for-hire piece, and the collection of lectures was dropped from the website when B&N discontinued their on-line classes. Doherty does not own the copyright to the book, and it will most likely not be made available again in any form.

His first novel, An Obscure Grave, features Dan Sullivan, a young police officer who had been featured in several of Jim's short stories. The novel was released by Pro Se Productions on June 17th, 2018 and has received some acclaim (see "Awards" below).

A short story collection entitled The Big Game and Other Crime Stories was released in September 2021, and collects fourteen short stories about Sullivan. Nine of the stories had been published previously, and five were written especially for the book.

Doherty's next book, The Adventures of Colonel Britannia, was released later in October 2021. Sparked by a short story challenge to reimagine a Jane Austen character as a super-hero, it takes the male lead of Jane Austen's novel Persuasion (Napoleonic-era Royal Navy Captain Frederick Wentworth), updates him to World War II, and transforms him into a British super-soldier, similar to Marvel Comics' Captain America.

Doherty has also begun writing a series of stories about a character named Gus Hachette. The timeline of the stories range from the mid-1910s to the late 1940s. Hachette is an itinerant Texas peace officer, drifting from one law enforcement job to another, but spending the bulk of his career as a Texas Ranger. Hachette is based on a real-life law enforcement figure from that era of Texas History, and the stories are loosely based on real historical incidents. Hachette has appeared in four stories, with an additional one forthcoming. A full-length novel about Hachette, Envy Rots the Bones, has been completed and is being being looked at by potential publishers.

Association with Dick Tracy[]


Jim was invited to contribute to the PLAINCLOTHES website, started by Mike Curtis and Joe Staton. He wrote two prose stories about Tracy for the site: “Murder Is My Hobby,” in which Tracy and his team pursue a serial killer who is traveling the world re-enacting the crimes of famous murderers, and “The Blind Side,” in which Jim fictionalized several events from the career of famous real-life Chicago police officer Frank Pape, and inserted Tracy in Pape's place.

Based on the strength of those stories, Mike Curtis offered Jim the position of Police Consultant when Curtis and Staton were offered the opportunity to take over the Dick Tracy strip.  In addition to keeping the police work authentic and the locales correct, Jim also writes the captions for the CRIMESTOPPERS’ TEXTBOOK panel on the Sunday strips.

He also introduced a new feature in the strip, DICK TRACY’S HALL OF FAME, which replaces CRIMESTOPPERS once a month. In each HALL OF FAME, a noteworthy real-life police officer is profiled. Jim Doherty is also a contributor to the Dick Tracy Wiki.

Shortly after the beginning of 2016, Sgt. Doherty announced that his association with Dick Tracy had ended, and that his last day as the strip's police technical advisor had been on Dec. 31st, 2015. He gave no specific reason for his departure. He was replaced by Lt. Walter Reimer.

A script of his, "The Occam's Razor Case," was used in the fifth Minit Mystery, published in April - May 2019. This story revealed the Big Boy's actual name, Gabe Famoni, and officially established a sibling relationship between the Big Boy and "Cut" and "Muscle" Famon.


  • Received a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America in the Best Short Non-Fiction category for "Blood for Oil," one of the original chapters from Just the Facts. It told the story of the Osage Indian Murder Case during the 1920's.  This was the FBI's first high-profile investigation.
  • He was a finalist for a Dagger Award, given by the British Crime Writers Association, in the special "Debut" category for his first novel, An Obscure Grave. In 2019, An Obscure Grave was nominated for a Silver Falchion Award, given at the Killer Nashville mystery conference, in the category of Best Police Procedural Novel.
  • Doherty accepted the Harvey Award for Best Syndicated Strip in 2013 along with artist Joe Staton on behalf of the entire creative team at the Baltimore Comic Convention. In 2014 Doherty, along with Staton, writer Mike Curtis, and inker Shelley Pleger, accepted a second Harvey in the same category. The creative team (including Doherty) received the award again in 2015.
  • At his training academy operated by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, GA, Doherty  finished at the top of his class and was named the "Honor Graduate" for his academic record.
  • Doherty was recognized as "Officer of the Month" by his department for intervening when he was called to the scene of a disturbance.  When he arrived, he saw two men arguing, one of whom produced a knife and tried to stab the other. Doherty drew his weapon and was about to shoot the assailant, but held his fire because the crowded lunchtime conditions made the use of firearms dangerous to bystanders.  He, his partner, and a Chicago police officer apprehended the assailant after a foot chase.


  • Chief Doherty, along with the other members of the current creative team, has appeared in strips recognizing holidays and other special occasions.
  • A character based on (and named after) Chief Doherty appeared in the original novel Dick Tracy Goes to War.
  • Additionally, a character based on Doherty has appeared in the Dick Tracy comic strip. He was depicted as a uniformed officer in Tracy's department, working with Mugg the police dog.
  • Doherty has stated that one of his favorite Dick Tracy storylines is the "Homeville's New Police Chief" sequence, which ran from September 16th, 1935 through March 7th, 1936. This storyline can be found in its entirety in The Complete Dick Tracy Vol. 3. Doherty's "Minit Mystery," titled "The Occam's Razor Case," was set during Tracy's tenure as Homeville's police chief, and it depicts the heretofore untold tale of his investigation into the murder of a Homeville police officer. In a sense, Doherty has followed in Tracy's footsteps by becoming a small-town police chief himself.
  • There is no known connection between Chief Doherty and the James Doherty who wrote several episodes of the TV police procedural Dragnet.