The Norman Transcript


October 20, 2013

Norman police mark 50th anniversary of detective’s death

NORMAN — On the same Sunday afternoon that the nation bid farewell to President John F. Kennedy, Norman police officers said goodbye to one of their own.

Lt. Jerry Bratcher, a 29-year-old police detective, died in a crash on Old No. 9 highway (now Alameda Avenue).

Bratcher was returning from a stolen vehicle investigation on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 24, when a car driven by a 19-year-old Norman man turned in front of him. A 20-year-old OU student, Gerald Wesley Byram, was a passenger in the 19-year-old’s car. Byram and Bratcher died at St. Anthony Hospital. The driver and a passenger in Bratcher’s car were injured.


Bratcher became the first Norman police officer to die in the line of duty. Other local peace officers had died but they were county deputies. Since then, two other Norman police officers — Melvin Miner and Dale DeBerry — have died in the line of duty.

Norman police officers will take note of Bratcher’s 1963 death by wearing specially designed lapel pins on their uniforms for the year beginning Nov. 1. Bratcher’s family included his wife, a son and two daughters. Lt. Bratcher’s grandson, Jeremy Bratcher, became a Norman police officer in 2009.

The pin will be a replica of Bratcher’s badge with his “end of watch” date of Nov. 24, 1963.

“It looks like his badge.”


Police Sgt. Tim Smith said fellow officers are looking forward to wearing the pins. No officer serving today served with Bratcher. Many retired officers remember him.

“I think they’re getting excited about it. The closest one that any of us remember is Dale (DeBerry) who died on Dec. 1, 1998.”

The department ordered 200 of the commemorative pins for officers and another batch to sell for the memorial fund. Smith reached out to the family of the OU student killed in the crash. He plans to send them a pin and newspaper reports of the crash.

All fallen officers will be honored in May but the 50th anniversary of the first death is special, Smith said.

“We always say we will never forget them,” said Smith. “So this will remind us that we really never forget.”

Andy Rieger


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Noting a life well lived

    James Garner never intended to be a movie and television star. He just kind of lucked into it, he would tell those who asked. If you have the itch to act, get a good-paying job and spend your free time at your local community theater, he ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Recount that really matters

    Americans have been hearing a lot about Congressional elections, but there’s another one halfway around the globe that will matter far more....

    July 22, 2014

  • Runoffs get no respect

    The Aug. 26 Republican runoff election for the Cleveland County District 3 commissioner post is one of only 18 races on ballots around the state. Only two races are statewide — the Democrat contests for U.S. Senator nominee and state ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Change some lines

    Editor, The Transcript: Looking at how our elected Republican friends are reacting to the refugee children crossing the border and now being housed in Lawton, I have a suggestion. Let’s edit the Christian Bible in several places to reflect ...

    July 21, 2014

  • New health care system demonized

    To the Editor: In October 2013, soon after we were asked to take over management responsibilities at our family business, we were visited by the company’s health insurance agent. She explained that a decision needed to be made regarding ...

    July 21, 2014

  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • The longer the wait, the higher the cost

    Editor, The Transcript: Thanks for the great article of July 3 on the Norman chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby group that recently went to D.C. as citizen lobbyists, working to get a revenue-neutral carbon pollution fee, refunded in ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014