By Jeanne LeFlore
McAlester native and Norman Police Deputy Chief Jim Maisano was in Philadelphia, Pa. on Oct. 22 to receive the J. Stannard Baker Award for Highway Safety from the International Order of Chiefs of Police.
“Its a great honor to get it,” Maisano said on Friday.
The criteria for the award are based on the recipient’s “sustained, continuous, career-spanning and unusual initiative and creativity in developing and implementing highway safety programs within their agencies and the communities they serve.”
In fact only one municipal award is given a year; this year it given to was Maisano.
A McAlester High School graduate, Maisano, 53, said he’s been in law enforcement for more than 30 years.
It’s an honor he worked hard for but recently Maisano and his family have faced heartbreak.
On June 27, Maisano’s 23 -year- old daughter, Sara, was shot and killed in a case of domestic violence.
In December, Maisano plans to attend a preliminary hearing for the man accused in his daughter’s death.
However in spite of heartache from losing his daughter, Maisano said he continues to pursue his career in law enforcement and to keep his daughter’s memory alive.
Maisano said he began his career in law enforcement in 1982 after he graduated from Northeastern State University.
“I worked as a breathalyzer operator in Wilburton,” Maisano said.
Then, in 1984, he joined the Norman Police Department where he championed impaired driving arrests and he became a Standardized Field Sobriety Test Instructor.
In 1992, he graduated with a Masters degree in Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement .
Maisano’s list of accomplishments is a long one.
He organized Norman’s first SSFST in-service training class and he completed Oklahoma’s first Drug Recognition Expert class and its instructor course.
And for the last 19 years he’s also volunteered as the state’s DRE coordinator. He’s also served in several elected positions with the IACP.
Some could say Maisano’s enthusiasm of law enforcement runs in the family.
His father, Johnny Maisano, born in Krebs, died while serving as a game warden for Oklahoma Department Wildlife Conservation. He died of Lyme disease in 1990 at the age of 56.
In 1986, Johnny Maisano was named Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Officer of the Year.
And in 2012 the name of Johnny Maisano was engraved into the National Police Officers Memorial in Washington D.C.
Jim Maisano’s great-grandfather Ernest L. Rhine was also in law enforcement after retiring from the railroad. “My grandfather was a police officer for the McAlester Police Department.”
Jim Maisano said his great-grandfather’s signature can be found on the original McAlester Fraternal Order of Police document.
Jim Carano’s aunt, Carolyn West, of Krebs is his father’s last surviving sister.
She said she is very proud of her nephew’s accomplishments.
“I am so proud of him; he is an intelligent good wonderful man,” West said on Friday.
Meanwhile, Johnny Maisano said he continues to work to keep his daughter’s memory alive by raising money for the Norman Animal Welfare Center.
“We’ve raised $19,000 and we will use that money for the project which will be dedicated in her name because of her tragic death and to keep her memory and her love for animals alive,” Maisano said.
And he said even though he’s got enough time in, he has no plans to retire.
“As long I wake up in the morning and still like my work, I will continue to work for as long as I can,” he said.
Contact Jeanne LeFlore at email@example.com.