WILLIAM R. KEESTER

Year Inducted: 2015

Bill began his career in law enforcement after his cousin who worked for the OKC police department taught Bill how to classify fingerprints. He became a fingerprint technician in 1954 for Tinker Air Force Base.

Through that, he met a couple of officers at the Oklahoma City Police Department working narcotics and spent countless nights doing ride-alongs with them. In 1956, he made it official and got hired. A year later, Bill became the first officer for the department to go undercover, in a drug investigation.

Through his undercover work, he got to know the local drug dealers and informants and began buying illegal drugs. He was eventually assigned to investigate organized gambling in the County, a very high level, secretive investigation. Once word of it leaked, Bill was told he was being transferred. He said no, so they fired him. This brought about a grand jury that handed down indictments for police corruption and led to a house cleaning at city hall.

Bill went to work in the insurance industry but maintained his contacts with law enforcement, passing on lots of valuable tips, even leading to the arrest of the first man ever put on the FBI’s most wanted list for illegal narcotics trafficking.

In 1967, he was hired by OSBI and worked with the legislature to address the growing issue of drug abuse in our state. He helped pass the OK uniformed controlled dangerous substance act of 1971 that created the office of narcotics and dangerous drugs and also led to OSBI getting funding for drug work. Up to that point, Bill was often using his own personal money to make these big drug purchases, leading to arrests. Bill became the director for the narcotics and dangerous drug organization, writing all the rules and regulations for how the dangerous substances would be properly handled. He supervised that as well as a team that would conduct town hall meetings to educate the public about the drug abuse issue. He also developed an intense, six week long training program for officers in Oklahoma to cover all things drug related.

In 1974, he drafted the legislation that would create the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and became the first chief agent in 1980. He helped build it from the ground up, wearing nearly every hat in the organization. Bill retired in 1987 with more than 30 years of investigative experience.

Because of his service, dedication, and long hours away from his family, there’s no telling how many drug dealers were taken off the streets and how many officers benefitted later from Bill pushing for more funding, better training, and a focus on fighting the narcotics trade in Oklahoma. Citizens will never know the debt they owe him for the impact he made in making their lives, neighborhoods, and schools safer. Indeed, his willingness to go into dangerous, often life-threatening situations, too many times to count, had exactly that impact and we all benefit because of it.

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