Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison has announced that he will seek reelection. Sheriff Harrison was elected in 2012 and reelected in 2016. He is seeking reelection for a third term in office which will begin in January of 2021.
“I know this is not the time for politics, but rest assured that my focus remains on keeping you and your families safe during this global pandemic. I felt led to announce my candidacy to inform the public that I am running for reelection and I look forward to serving you in the future,” stated Sheriff Harrison.
Since taking office in 2013, Sheriff Harrison has worked hard to make the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office an agency that the citizens can be proud of. Sheriff Harrison has led the agency with professionalism, integrity, and fairness - the core values that he established for the Sheriff’s Office.
Overall crime in Gulf County has decreased by 48 percent and violent crime has decreased by 58 percent since Sheriff Harrison took office in 2013. His focus has been on fighting drugs in Gulf County because he believes that drugs are the catalyst for most of the crimes that occur. Patrol and investigative resources have been dedicated to getting drugs off the streets and out of the hands of our youth. Since taking office in 2013, methamphetamine arrests are up 368 percent as deputies continue to fight this drug epidemic that plagues our nation.
To deter the presence of drugs in our schools, Sheriff Harrison recently assigned a K-9 Unit to the school district. Last year, GSCO Narcotics Investigators teamed up with panhandle Sheriff’s Offices to form a Drug Task Force that shares resources and work together to fight illegal narcotics in our region. In 2018, the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office made the largest drug bust in Gulf County history, removing over a million dollars of drugs and drug money from our streets. The currency in this case was ultimately seized and a portion of the money will be allocated to drug rehabilitation for Gulf County citizens.
In 2018, Hurricane Michael devastated Gulf County and presented unique problems that our law enforcement had never faced. Sheriff Harrison made tough decisions during this time and focused on the safety of Gulf County citizens. He managed over 125 law enforcement officers assigned to Gulf County in the aftermath of the storm and carefully balanced the problems with reentry and a county-wide curfew. Sheriff Harrison partnered with state officials to assure Gulf County received the resources it needed to recover. The first wave of law enforcement support after landfall self-deployed to Gulf County as a direct result of Sheriff Harrison’s personal relationships with fellow sheriffs throughout the state.
During his tenure, Sheriff Harrison worked with county leaders to relocate the Sheriff’s Office to a facility that could consolidate the different divisions of the agency. A facility was located and purchased, with no cost to taxpayers, using BP Oil Spill Funds. This facility is more accessible to the public and allows the Sheriff’s administration, investigations and communications divisions to work under one roof to better serve our citizens. During this term in office, Sheriff Harrison transitioned the agency to a new records management system called Smart Cop.
This system is used by many Sheriff’s Offices in Florida and replaced CODE-3, an old, obsolete system that was implemented in the early 90’s. Sheriff Harrison has seen that deputies are equipped with the proper tools for their job and are professional in their appearance. Deputies have received hundreds of hours of specialized training including active shooter training to better prepare them in responding to critical incident scenes.
Sheriff Harrison has served on the Florida Sheriff’s Association Board of Directors. He has also been selected by fellow sheriffs to serve as the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Managers for the Florida Sheriff’s Risk Management Fund. This self-insurance fund, with over 360 million dollars in assets, serves the majority of Florida Sheriffs with liability, workers compensation and automobile insurance.
Sheriff Harrison has worked hard over the past few years to obtain better health insurance for Sheriff’s Office employees. Expensive and inferior health insurance caused problems with employee retention and recruitment. Sheriff Harrison has converted employees over to a health insurance consortium with other Florida Sheriff’s, this new health insurance allows employees to pay small co-pays for medical services and obtain less expensive medication.
Sheriff Harrison is committed to keeping the public informed. Law enforcement summaries and frequent press releases are provided to the citizens through the Sheriff's webpage, social media accounts and local media outlets. Sheriff Harrison frequently speaks to government agencies, civic organizations and church groups about public safety issues in Gulf County. Under his leadership, Sheriff Harrison has continued to provide D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) training in our schools. He has also sponsored numerous presentations within the school systems to educate youth on the dangers of underage drinking, drug use, vaping and bullying.
Sheriff Harrison works hard to give back to the community that he serves. Each year the Sheriff’s Office partners with civic and volunteer organizations to collect and distribute toys to needy children at Christmas. GCSO Charities also distributes Thanksgiving and Easter baskets to less fortunate families and awards a scholarship to two deserving high school seniors in Gulf County each year.
Sheriff Harrison is a 1986 graduate of Wewahitchka High School and a 1991 graduate of Florida State University. He started his law enforcement career in 1991 and has worked for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Children and Families and the Florida Department of Corrections Inspector General’s Office. In addition to his bachelor’s degree and basic law enforcement recruit training; Harrison has received hundreds of hours of specialized training in law enforcement and law enforcement management.
Sheriff Harrison is a third generation law enforcement officer. He and his wife Lana, a teacher at Wewahitchka High School and a Registered Nurse, have been married for 26 years. They have three children, Blake, 21, Savannah, 19, and Danielle, 16. He is the son of Al and Bonnie Harrison who are long-time residents of Wewahitchka. Sheriff Harrison and his family are active members of Wewahitchka First Baptist Church. In 2005 and 2013, Sheriff Harrison was selected as the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the Tupelo Masonic Lodge in Wewahitchka. He is on the board of directors and is an active member of the Port St. Joe Lion’s Club.
Sheriff Harrison stated “I am proud of the accomplishments that have been made under my leadership. I’m excited at the opportunity to continue to serve the citizens of Gulf County and keep them safe. We have made landmark improvements to the operations of the Sheriff’s Office over the past seven years, but there is still work to be done.”
Anyone who would like to talk to Sheriff Harrison concerning his campaign may contact him at 850-639-5161 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Campaign contributions can be mailed to 111 Foremost Drive Wewahitchka, Florida 32465.