The Norman Police Department was formed in 1919 when the City of Norman was chartered. Prior to this the law enforcement duties for the community had fallen upon Deputy U.S. Marshals, then a city marshal. The new police department shared office space with the fire department in a small building in the 100 Block of North Peters Avenue.
In 1924, the department consisted of four officers. By 1936, the staff had increased to eight officers. These officers worked twelve hour shifts, seven days a week, for $110.00 per month. In 1938, four more officers were hired, with the shifts going to eight hour shifts, six days a week. By the mid 1930s, the department had one car which was operated twenty-four hours a day. There were also three officers who walked a foot beat in the downtown area on a twenty-four hour a day basis.
In the summer of 1942, the United States Navy established a Naval Flight Training Center (which soon became Naval Air Station Norman) and a Naval Air Technical Training Center at two locations in Norman. During the war years and until the bases deactivation, the Norman Police worked closely with the Naval Shore Patrol.
Since the war years, the Norman Police Department has continued to grow and improve operations. The Police Department has moved twice, ending up at our current location in 1982.
In 1995 the Norman Police Department began the process of adopting Community Oriented Policing as the approach to solving problems in our community. The City was divided into thirteen police beats with officers being assigned to the beats on a more permanent basis. The Community Oriented Policing philosophy centers around building partnerships between the police department and the citizens and merchants in the community. Working together solutions to problems are discovered and resolutions are attained through cooperation.
The Norman Police Department is fortunate in that only two officers in our history have been killed in the line of duty. In 1963 Detective Lieutenant Jerry Bratcher was killed in a traffic accident while pursuing a burglary suspect. In 1972 Officer Melvin Miner was killed in a shoot-out with a man who had just murdered his own parents.
In December of 1998, Sergeant Dale DeBerry died of a massive heart attack while performing the department’s physical fitness test.