The Norman Police Department celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2019. In its more than 100 years of existence, the men and women who have worn the uniform and worked within its ranks have left lasting impacts through continued innovation. In 2021, we are celebrating the many contributions of the department's innovators. Throughout the year, we will celebrate our own trailblazers and innovators.
NPD aims to feature the officers and stories that have impacted you as Norman citizens over the years. Share your pictures, stories, and any recommendations with our Historians at [email protected].
Innovators of NPD
Chief Don Holyfield | Years of Service 1963-1986
Chief Don P. Holyfield, the 13th Chief of Police for the Norman Police Department, began his career as a police officer in 1963 walking a beat. In 1967, he was promoted to Sergeant and appointed to oversee personnel and training. It is in this position that Chief Holyfield began to leave his mark developing a recruitment and selection program for civilian and commissioned personnel, as well as the department's first Police Academy. He was promoted to Chief of Police at the age of 33 in 1975 and served in the position until his retirement in 1986.
Below are few of Chief Holyfield' key innovations that continue to positively impact the department and community today.
- Developed & Implemented Safety Town
- Implemented the Field Training Program
- Developed the Educational Incentive Program
- Started the Neighborhood Watch Program
- Started the Norman Crime Stoppers Program
- Created the Norman Police Academy
- Led the construction of the new police department and training facilities
- Introduced EMS to NPD
- Initiated the computerization of the department
Learn more about Chief Don Holyfield's career and longstanding contributions here.
MPO Lahoma Nelson | Years of Service 1972-1988
One of the department's first female officers, Master Police Officer Lahoma Nelson was a true law enforcement pioneer. Lahoma Nelson was the Norman Police Department's first female civilian employee. She began working for NPD in the 1960s as a clerk. In 1972, she became one of the department's first female officers after graduating from the police academy.
Lahoma is best known for her work in community outreach and public safety education. A founder of Safety Town, Lahoma worked closely with Sooner Mall to establish and create the curriculum for Safety Town. Safety Town has taught generations of children biking and pedestrian safety since its enactment in 1977. Today, more than44 years later, Safety Town remains a staple in the community educating hundreds of children each June. A true labor of love, Lahoma remained an active part of Safety Town for more than 30 years and continued as a volunteer even after her retirement.
A fixture in the classroom, Lahoma also taught safety classes in schools and daycares across Norman and in Little Axe. Community education and outreach remains a priority in Norman due to Lahoma's efforts nearly five decades ago.
Learn more about MPO Lahoma Nelson's career and longstanding contributions here.
MPO Booker Shackelford | Years of Service 1973-1979
Booker Shackelford began his career in Law Enforcement with the City of Norman in 1973; becoming the first African American Police Officer in the history of the department.
Shackelford was a graduate of the 10th Norman Police Academy in April of 1973. Shackelford rose to the rank of Master Police Officer and served as a member of the Norman Police Department Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) for six years. Shackelford left NPD in 1979 when he was offered a job opportunity with General Motors.
Booker Shackelford would go to work for General Motors for over 20 years before returning to law enforcement. Upon his return to law enforcement, he was employed by the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office as a School Resource Officer. When the program was cut by the Sheriff's Office, Shackelford would go on to work for the Norman Public Schools Police Department where he continued his career until his passing in 2010. Shackelford loved his career as a School Resource Officer.
Shackelford was a man of faith and was active in his church serving in many capacities. Shackelford’s life exemplified service. In 2010, Shackelford was posthumously awarded the City of Norman’s Human Rights Award for his devoted service to his community.
Learn more about MPO Booker Shackelford's career and longstanding contributions here.
Chief David Boyett | Years of Service 1971-1995
Chief David Boyett, the 15th Chief of Police for the Norman Police Department, began his career as a police officer in 1971 walking a beat. Quickly working his way through the ranks of the department, Boyett's leadership and strategic vision yielded great department growth and development. In 1988, Boyett was appointed Chief of Police. A number of innovations that came to fruition during his tenure remain intact and success decades after implementation. Chief Boyett retired in 1995 after 24 years of service to the City of Norman.
Below are few of Chief Boyett's key innovations that continue to positively impact the department and community today.
- Brought Norman's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to NPD
- Implemented the first Case Management System
- Established the first performance based indicators for NPD
- Implemented the community policing model
- Integrated the use of mobile and video audio recording technology to policing and crime scene processing
- Introduced the use of crime analysis for problem-solving and enforcement
- Developed the first Citizens Police Academy
Learn more about Chief David Boyett's career and longstanding contributions here.
Chief Phil Cotten | Years of Service 1973-2011
Chief Phil Cotten was the 16th and longest serving Chief of Police for the Norman Police Department. Boasting a 38-year tenure, Chief Cotten was well-known for his ability to initiate and build community partnerships. A champion of community-oriented policing, Chief Cotten led the department's unwavering commitment to community engagement, community partnerships, and a focus on community-centered public service. Chief Cotten retired on May 20, 2011.
Below are few of Chief Cotten's key innovations that continue to positively impact the department and community today.
- Continued emphasis on implementation of community-oriented policing
- Implementation of the department's forensic analyst positions
- Initiation of the drug interdiction team
- Implementation of significant technological improvements including advancements in crime scene processing, digital evidence analysis, and a fingerprint comparison database
- Led the transition to modern radio technology, records management software, dispatch CAD, as well as many other modern technological advancements
Learn more about Chief Phil Cotten's career and longstanding contributions here.