Phil Cotten began his law enforcement career with the University of Oklahoma Department of Public Safety in 1971. He joined the Norman Police Department in 1973. In 1996, he was selected to become Chief of Police where he serve for 16 years. During his tenure as Chief of Police for the Norman Police Department, truly continued its evolution into being a modern and professional department.
Cotten guided the department through steps of obtaining accreditation through the Oklahoma Chiefs of Police. Numerous employees worked on this project which included reviewing all department policies and developing new and modernized policies which met the accreditation standards.
Another area Cotten was instrumental in was the department’s efforts in community policing. Cotten was quick to realize and understand that community policing was the way for the future in law enforcement. There were simply not enough officers or resources to rely on reactive policing. Being proactive was the key and Cotten understood the vision. He implemented community policing with the Norman Police Department and supported educational efforts and involvement by the officers.
A later partnership with the community resulted in the passage of a public safety sales tax. The citizens voted a temporary half-cent sales tax to be used for public safety. As a result in the increased revenue the sales tax generated, the Norman Police Department added 41 additional officers over the next 7 years. Because of the success of the tax, citizens voted to make it a permanent sales tax to continue funding public safety.
Cotten was supportive in working with the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office on initiatives that would reduce preventable injuries and deaths.
He retired from the Norman Police Department in 2011. He became executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police in 2012.
Cotten is a graduate of the FBI National Academy 165th Session.
He is married to Gail whom he met at a Sonic Drive-In in 1967. They have one son, a daughter, and seven grandchildren.