One of the earliest known law enforcement officers for Catoosa was Deputy U.S. Marshal, I.T. (Indian Territory) George Washington Cochran, Sr. who was commissioned by then U.S. Marshal George J. Crump in 1893 serving under Judge Parker’s court in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Cochran served as Catoosa’s first Town Marshal around the time of Statehood. Cochran’s Cherokee allotment was along Pine St between 177th and 193rd E. Avenues in Catoosa. In those days Catoosa was known as a rough and tumble town. Other notable law enforcement officers in and around the Catoosa area were Deputy U.S. Marshals, I.T. Ed Reed, William A. Cummins and one Walter “Spunky” Taylor. Taylor was interviewed years later during his retirement by a local newspaper about his life as a lawman and was featured sporting and displaying his “six shooter”.
In May 1935 C.T. Ramsey was elected Town Marshal for a term of sixty days. Since then, all Marshals and Chiefs have been appointed. Old records kept by the Town Board indicate that a stove, coal and blankets were bought for the jail for $2.16. In June of 1936 J.O. Britt was appointed to serve as Town Marshal for a salary of $15.00 a month. Records show his services were discontinued in February of 1937 due to a lack of funds for his salary. It appears that Britt accidentally shot a Ruby Bryan, as records indicate the Town Board paid $31.00 to Franklin Hospital in Claremore for her treatment. In November of 1937 Britt was again given the job of City Marshal under the condition that the city and Mr. Britt share 50/50 each on all arrests that he made that resulted in conviction or if any fine was lain or worked out. The city was obligated to board any prisoners and Britt was to provide care. In December Britt’s bond was discussed at the town meeting and was filed in December 1937. On January 03rd, 1938 a $500.00 surety bond was accepted, and the Board instructed Britt that “…in making arrests and stopping passengers to give them all the courtesy possible… any drunkards or violators of the law to receive the same courtesy as any other violator in the way of misdemeanor, disturbing peace, excessive drinking, drunkards or profane language.”
In February 1938 Mr. Britt was paid $30.75 for marshal service. Ordinance 38 (March 07th, 1938) stated that “Chief of Police” be paid 50% of all fines that are paid into the treasurer for his service instead of salary. It was signed by a notary and posted in town. In April of 1938 Britt resigned as “Chief of Police” of the incorporated Town of Catoosa, but in June 1938 the motion was made to reappoint him and to act on the same bond and under the same terms and conditions as previously. This was to take effect immediately. Just three months later in September records indicate that Britt again resigned, but records indicate he did so, “to patrol school.” Nothing in those records indicate what “patrol school” consisted of.
No mention is made of Catoosa having a Town Marshal from September 1938 until August 5th, 1947, when a Sam Moorehead was paid $25 per month to act as City Marshal on a month-to-month basis. Mr. Moorehead held this position until November 1947. Records do indicate that Catoosa still had a jail at this time. However, no records show that Catoosa had any law enforcement from November 1947, until February of 1953 when records indicate, “matter of town marshal taken up and referred to town attorney to see if arrangements could be made with sheriff and county commissioner and if possible get a man appointed by the Sheriff to be Deputy Sheriff in connection with appointment as Town Marshal and live in Catoosa and all possible efforts be made to collect occupation tax and contributions to secure finance to pay the necessary salary.” From March until October of 1953 the law enforcement issue was discussed and in October 1953 Sam Morehead was sworn in as Marshal but was not informed, he would be appointed Constable in the Catoosa District until January 1954 by the County Commissioner of Rogers County after his bond was made and accepted. Records do not show that Moorehead actually ever served as Marshal after that date.
On June 5th, 1955, the Town Board discussed appointing a Town Constable. A Ralph Holbrook applied for the position and on July 18 the motion was made to appoint him. Records dated July 25th say that no action was taken to appoint a Town Marshal and apparently the issue died without the town hiring anyone.
In 1959, the town hired a full-time police officer thus beginning a town record of law enforcement to present date. Though the title Chief of Police was used in older town records it was never officially granted until 1972 when Ron Barnes was named Chief of Police. In October of 1976 the town hired notable law enforcement officer and former Rogers County Deputy, J.B. Hamby to be the Chief of Police. Hamby was well known and respected in the State through his service to both the Tulsa and Rogers County Sheriffs’ Offices, as well as the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office as an investigator. In fact, he was one of the very first K9 Officers for Tulsa County. Chief Hamby was killed in the line of duty on September 01st, 1978 after responding to an armed holdup of the Catoosa Tag Agency. One of the two robbers was also killed in the shootout and the other was wounded. He was later tried and convicted of Chief Hamby’s murder and is currently serving a life sentence. Hamby’s gravestone bears the inscription, “The Finest Peace Officer in the State of Oklahoma.”
After Hamby’s death several men, including Gary Smith, former Tulsa Police Officer Claud Graves and Catoosa’s own Jim Perryman Sr. worked as the Chief of Police until 1980. Then Benny L. Dirck, who had known and worked with Hamby years before at the Sheriff’s Office was appointed as Chief of Police and held that position for nearly twenty years. After Chief Dirck’s retirement in 1999, Captain Raymond G. Rodgers, Jr. was named Interim Chief of Police until the year 2000 when he was officially appointed Chief of Police. He served in this position until March of 2010. Lt. John Blish was named Interim Chief of Police while the city searched for a new Chief. In August of 2010 then Mayor Rita Lamkin appointed Clifford L. Arneecher Chief of Police. He held this position until September 2011. Asst Chief of Police John Blish was again named Interim Chief of Police until January 2012 when the new City Manager took applications for the position and ultimately appointed Kevin R. McKim Chief of Police. Chief McKim was well known in the Catoosa area for having secured funding for and forming the Catoosa Public School Campus Police Department where he had served as Chief of Campus Police for more than ten years. Chief McKim was injured in the line of duty and ultimately, due to those injuries was forced to retire in October of 2018. Lt. Andrew J. Wimberley, III was named Interim Chief of Police by City Manager John Blish and after taking applications for the position Blish selected and appointed retired Tulsa Police Officer Ronald “Ronnie” L. Benight, II Chief of Police. Chief Benight had previously worked for the Catoosa Police Department in the mid-nineties and early 2000s but after achieving his bachelor’s degree applied with the Tulsa Police Department where he worked for several more years before retiring. Chief Benight currently leads the department.
The department is currently staffed by the Chief, one Assistant Chief, a Captain/Patrol Commander, an Investigator, 13 uniformed Patrol Officers, 2 Reserve Officers, one civilian assistant, who maintains the Records Division, and a K9. One Reserve officer is also employed by the department as a civilian technical advisor/administrator. Of the department’s compliment of officers there are: one K9 officer, several law enforcement instructors and crime scene investigators, an Investigative team, an Advanced Collision Investigation Squad, two officers Federally commissioned by the F.B.I. as part of the Safe Trails Task Force, four officers commissioned by the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office Task Force and all officers are commissioned by the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service as well as the Muscogee Creek Nation Light Horse Police.