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Tulsa Homicide Sergeant Reflects On Nearly Four Decades Of Service Ahead Of Retirement

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Tulsa Police Sergeant Mike Huff, who will retire later this month. Tulsa Police Sergeant Mike Huff, who will retire later this month.
Huff said one of his defining moment's was the murder case of Tulsa businessman Roger Wheeler [File photo] Huff said one of his defining moment's was the murder case of Tulsa businessman Roger Wheeler [File photo]
Sergeant Mike Huff testifies before Congress [File photo] Sergeant Mike Huff testifies before Congress [File photo]
Tulsa police rookie Gus Spanos [File photo] Tulsa police rookie Gus Spanos [File photo]

Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- An end of an era is fast approaching at the Tulsa Police Department.  Homicide Sergeant Mike Huff is retiring at the end of this month, after 36 years on the force, 31 of those spent solving the city's murders.

Sergeant Huff estimates he's been involved in more than a 1,000 homicide arrests. He has a passion for what he does and has sacrificed greatly to serve the citizens of Tulsa.

Sergeant Huff became a police cadet in 1975, after a heart to heart with his father, while watching a John Wayne movie.

"My dad gave me this great talk about trying lead a life of adventure. He never got that chance after World War II and having kids and I always took that to heart," he said.

Sergeant Huff said his career has been a professional dream come true and while it's had its ups and downs, it's never been boring.

"Car chases and shootouts and chasing bad guys through backyards at two in the morning," he said.

When looking back on his years solving the city's most vicious crimes, some stand out as defining moments, especially the mafia hit of Tulsa businessman Roger Wheeler.

4/28/2009 Related Story: Investigator Speaks Out On Roger Wheeler Hit

Huff would've never dreamed it would lead to corrupt FBI agents, testifying before Congress and being on "60 Minutes."

"Who would've set out to think they were going to arrest a decorated FBI agent for a mob hit," he said.

Ironically, Huff's last day, May 27th 2011, is the 30th anniversary of Wheeler's murder. Many cases come with a lot of pressure, like he murder of Tulsa police rookie Gus Spanos.

"What are we going to do if we don't solve it? What are we going to do? We're the people responsible," he said.

Sergeant Huff has a heart for victims' families and during his tenure, Tulsa's homicide solve rate has been well above the national average. He credits his success to the advice of those before him and an all star team of detectives.

"It is a steady dose of tragedies but it's intoxicating to solve them, a real challenge and it's devastating when you can't solve them all," he said.

He leaves with a lifetime of memories and a lump in this throat.

"I've been blessed to have this job and wish everybody the best," he said.

Sergeant Huff plans to volunteer in the homicide unit once a week and he'll be testifying in cases for some time to come, but most of his focus will be on the International Association of Cold Case investigators he's created.

He said it's easier leaving knowing the unit is in great hands. Sergeant Dave Walker, who's currently over the robbery unit, will take over the homicide squad.

Current and former Tulsa Police Chiefs on Sergeant Mike Huff's legacy:

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan:

"Sgt. Mike Huff arguably gave more of his life to the Tulsa Police Department and the citizens of Tulsa than any of the rest of us. Mike took a personal interest in every case. He felt that it was his duty to stand in the shoes of the victims to achieve justice for them after they were gone..

He set the bar for a homicide unit and we will reap the rewards of those standards for years to come. I consider bringing him into the Homicide Unit in 1980 one of my greatest accomplishments. He is one of the best and will be sorely missed."

Former Tulsa Police Chief Ron Palmer:

"I always had a great deal of respect for Mike's work and Mike as a person. He will be long be remembered as an iconic figure in the detective division - a permanent reference point of how to get things done. He has a rare combination of being a tireless, skilled investigator and interviewer, yet maintained an obvious compassion for victim's families in their darkest hours. For me, he was a "go to" guy - willing to take the time to brief me on cases or provide information, no matter how seemingly trivial my request was. It appeared to me he was a guy who was meant to do what he did"

Former Tulsa Police Chief Dave Been:

"Mike's retirement is a tremendous loss, what with his expertise in homicides and investigations. He's always made the job, number 1 and he's done a wonderful job and is a great guy. He's an excellent leader and investigator and was also an excellent patrol officer and patrol Sergeant. He's been top notch all along. He's one of those guys, if you had 300 Huffs, you wouldn't need 600 officers. He works that hard."

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