Former Miami Chief of Police George Haralson, along with five other inductees will join the ranks of law enforcement so recognized during the 9th annual induction ceremony on Dec. 9.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Former Miami Chief of Police and Miami native George Haralson is being honored by induction into the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Museum's Hall of Fame.
Haralson, along with five other inductees will join the ranks of law enforcement so recognized during the 9th annual induction ceremony at 2 p.m. on Dec. 9 at the Oklahoma History Center located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City. The event is free and open to the public.
Oklahoma Lt. Governor Todd Lamb will present the awards, and Lori Fullbright from Newson6 in Tulsa will emcee the event.
Haralson, along with the late Mary Horn, the first Tulsa Police Department’s African American female officer, Dr. DeWade Langley, the director of the School of Criminal Justice for the University of Central Oklahoma, and brothers Dick, Mike and Pat Wilkerson each serving in varied careers with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation will all be inducted this week.
Haralson has 40 years of law enforcement experience and is known best and gained national notoriety and recognition for his outstanding, groundbreaking contributions to successful investigations and programs in Oklahoma and the U.S. dealing with child sexual abuse and child pornography. His work has also had great influence on state laws.
Haralson was born in Miami in 1952, graduated from Miami High School in 1970 and studied Criminal Justice at NEO A&M College and Missouri Southern State College in Joplin, receiving an Associates Degree.
He began his law enforcement career as a patrol officer and later as a juvenile crimes investigator with the Joplin Police Department.
Two years later he accepted a position with the Tulsa Police Department, where he served on the Special Operations and Hostage Negotiations Team and began a long, exceptional Oklahoma law enforcement career that continues today.
Numerous awards, accolades, and credits, too large in number to list all, have been given to Haralson over his lengthy and extraordinary career for his outstanding service, selfless dedication, and groundbreaking and innovative efforts and endeavors to develop programs and effective excellence in law enforcement that went above and beyond his regular work. Haralson also worked to enhance community understanding and connection with the law enforcement agencies he served.
After a tense and dangerous hostage standoff in 1982, as Haralson negotiated the safe release of six hostages taken by a convicted murderer of a Florida police officer and placed himself in peril , he was awarded a Medal of Honor and personal commendation.
He conducted deep undercover investigations infiltrating pornography operations in adult bookstores in the Tulsa and Kansas City area working with the FBI, which resulted in numerous arrests and valuable intelligence information. Haralson worked with the US Attorney of Oklahoma’s Northern District, federal postal inspectors, US Customs, the FBI and several major city departments throughout the country that resulted in the identification and investigation of more than 70 child pornography distributors in eleven states.
In 1984 Haralson helped push Oklahoma House Bill 1778 which resulted in penalties for child sexual exploitation, or possession, production, manufacture or distribution of any obscene pornographic material of a child under the age of 18. Prior to passage on the bill, possession of child porn was not even considered a crime, and now it’s a felony crime.
“It wasn’t even against the law in Oklahoma,” Haralson said. “I went around the country and taught obscenity investigations to mostly state agencies and FBI.”
As technology advanced and legal standards caught up these more sophisticated crime investigations and laws evolved as fast as possible to keep up as well.
“We didn’t even have a computer in the office then we had to take a floppy disk to some electronics store,” Haralson said. “There were only about 11 of us doing this nationwide back in the early 80s.”
Haralson said he believes he was able to do this extremely challenging type of investigative work, which takes a toll on may detectives, because he has no children of his own allowing him to stay focused.
“I would never have been a good father because I would never have been home,” Haralson said. “I never worked much with a partner because most of these other guys with kids just couldn’t psychologically and emotionally detach themselves. This isn’t for everybody, if I had kids, I wouldn’t have been doing it either. So I was able to detach myself from that.”
He tells of a case he worked undercover for five long years involving three children, one a nine-year-old girl, who were all being sexually abused and exploited that has never left him but explains why he was so driven.
“It took five years to make that case,” Haralson said. “I made some mistakes, I should have moved quicker on it, and I did finally. These guys were cagey then.”
Once an arrest was made on the case, Haralson told the little girl, who was then 13, about his arrest of her perpetrator in Illinois.
“The principal gets her out of class, she was 13 and looked 33 from all she had endured, and all four of us officers were standing there and I tell her that he was arrested, and she says, ‘You mean to tell me that some finally caught that SOB.’ And I said, “Yes, and I’m so sorry it took so long,’ and she said, ‘Just as long as I know I will never see him again,” Haralson said. “That was probably my affirmation for why I did it, and that’s why I kept on doing it all through the 80s.”
Haralson credits Doug Elder of the Houston Police Department, Toby Tyler of the San Bernadino, California Sheriff’s Office, Tom Rogers of the Indianapolis Police Dept. and Bill Dworn with the LAPD and Wayne Meyers the U.S. Postal Inspector.
“I was very fortunate to have a commander who let me do this, and others who supported and worked closely with me over the years," Haralson said. “I just hope I was able to make a difference in the lives of these kids with a handful of investigators who were doing the work that no one else even wanted to talk about.”
He was then assigned to the Street Crimes Unit in 1990 with five officers under his supervision. The unit made 463 arrests in a 12-month period for vice, narcotics, property and violent crimes.
In 1995 Haralson was selected to head the Tulsa PD’s organized gang unit. His efforts helped merge the Tulsa Sheriff’s gang unit into the Tulsa Area Response Gang Enforcement Team (TARGET) to initiate a proactive stance against gang-related violence and crime. TARGET investigated 210 gang-related cases, took 48 guns, 395 pounds of ammo off the streets of Tulsa, and tallied 174 felony arrests.
Haralson retired from the Tulsa PD in 1998 and accepted and started a job the same day with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office as a captain as watch commander, internal affairs, court operations, and detective divisions.
Once again Haralson was called to assist in a hostage negation and talked the suspect into allowing him in to check the condition of the hostage. The suspect pointed the gun at Haralson and threatened to shoot him, but Haralson was able to talk to the suspect and emerge carrying the hostage to safety. Haralson was awarded the Medal of Valor for an act of “outstanding bravery.”
“When I received my award, I was still working undercover, so the Chief had to hold it up and say,” Sgt. Haralson is in the room, but we can’t take his picture but we will see to it he gets his plaque," Haralson said with a laugh.
In 2003 Haralson was promoted to the rank of chief deputy and served as interim undersheriff from August 2004 to January 2005. He took early retirement in 2011 to accept the position of Miami’s Chief of Police.
Haralson returned to his hometown and was sworn in as the 17th police chief to serve Miami since 1910. He implemented new policy and procedures and completed a makeover of the department’s badges, offices, workspaces, signage and a flagpole, uniforms and patrol cars and a new ranking structure.
Haralson also instituted several programs here including officer recognition, school resource officers, Citizen’s Police Academy, unifying domestic violence response countywide and a Chaplain program.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to come back to my hometown, back to Miami and work with the community, work with the people in the community and to improve the police department," Haralson said of his time in Miami.
He was elected the Third Vice President of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police and now serves as First Vice President and on the legislative committee and will take the position as Board President in June of 2018.
Haralson left Miami in May of 2015 to accept a position with the Oklahoma State Board of Dentistry as their chief investigator. In this role, he conducts criminal and administrative investigations throughout the state including criminal prescription fraud and drug diversion. In this capacity he has filed 166 criminal counts against 23 suspects in seven counties.
“I’m an aberration I think because most of these people come to work and then they want to go home. They want to take their kid to t-ball, go to church on Sunday, go out to the store and bump into all their friends or something, and I’m pretty hardcore law enforcement,” Haralson said. “I don’t know what else to do with my life. I am honored that I’m going to be recognized by my peers for my long career in Oklahoma law enforcement…I’ve enjoyed my life and feel blessed I‘ve been able to do the things I’ve done and have made friends…I just hope I die of a gunshot going through the door first.”
Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.