The names of four officers killed in the line of duty rest on a plaque located outside of the Ardmore Police Department.

However, the plaque only represents half of the individuals who have died while serving the department. At least five others have been lost in history, until now. And by next year, the police department plans to have a few new ways of remembering them.

Several newer officers still have no idea that the Ardmore Police Department is ranked among the top five police agencies in the state for line of duty deaths, Sgt. Chris Mata said.

While sorting through a display located inside the department, Mata said he and a few of his fellow officers came across some old photos of past officers that reminded them of the department’s history.

“You see the photos of all these old guys and it’s like, ‘Man, I wonder what was it like, what did they do, whose who?’” Mata said.

Mata and a group of officers subsequently began scouring through old newspaper articles in search of stories of APD officers who had died in the line of duty and were able to track down nine closer to home than they thought.

“We didn’t know that they were all still buried here -- most of them, because it’s so hard to find. There’s so many grave sites out there at the cemetery,” Mata said. “It’s so hard to track them down, but we did all of them, except one.”

The majority of them were buried at the Rosehill Cemetery in Ardmore and one in Durant, Mata said. However, several of the grave sites were in very poor condition, with their headstones slanted over and the ground no longer leveled.

“So we started researching and talking about it as a PD (police department) and we thought it would be awesome to do something with their graves and take care of our own,” Mata said.

By January 2020 the Ardmore Police Department hopes to begin fixing up the fallen officers grave sites, while also creating some type of inscription or plaque to signify that those individuals were officers in the line of duty when they died.

However, without getting in touch with some of the officer’s families, the second part of the project may prove difficult, Mata said. “We don’t know if their families are still around here, we’re trying to reach out to them and see. We’re trying not to do something that would deface it or anything like that.”

A potential alternative to an inscription on a headstone may be cementing and engraving a new stone next to the grave site, Mata said. However, the department is hoping family members will come forward, even though some may be very distant relatives by now.

One known family member of an officer who died in the 30s is now 85 years old, Mata said.

The dates of each officer’s end of watch, a term used by law enforcement to refer to the day an officer was killed in the line of duty, range from 1908 to 1970.

All but one of the officers who died in the line of duty prior to 1970 were killed by gunfire.

“It was kind of like the old west around here back then, is what it seems like,” Mata said. “It’s kind of crazy, there’s a lot of history here. That’s what we’re interested in trying to remember.”

In 1915, APD Patrolman Charles Smith was killed in a gasoline explosion that took the lives of 43 people and destroyed most of downtown Ardmore. The death of APD Patrolman Bobby Rudisill also gained a lot of public attention after he was killed by gunfire in 1960.

“His son was two years old at the time and he had a wife, so it was a real big thing at that time. I saw several articles because people were raising money for his family and things like that,” Mata said. “He was killed where Ardmart is now. It used to be an old grocery store, same place but different name.”

Anyone who is a family member or knows a distant relative of one of the fallen officers is encouraged to contact the Ardmore Police Department at 580-223-1212 or Sgt. Chris Mata at 580-221-2581.

“If anybody does come forward and has any information in reference to these families, we’d love to sit down and talk to them — and if they have any ideas, we’d be willing to do that too,” Mata said.

Below is a list containing the names of the nine officers killed in the line of duty, their end of watch and cause of death.

Patrolman Herbert Gale Poe

Ardmore Police Department, OK

EOW: Wednesday, March 25, 1970

Cause of Death: Motorcycle crash

Patrolman Bobby Rudisill

Ardmore Police Department, OK

EOW: Thursday, December 22, 1960

Cause of Death: Gunfire

Patrolman Charles Washington

Ardmore Police Department, OK

EOW: Wednesday, April 30, 1958

Cause of Death: Gunfire

Assistant Chief of Police Oscar Wilkes

Ardmore Police Department, OK

EOW: Thursday, January 3, 1952

Cause of Death: Gunfire

Detective Elmer Moorehead

Ardmore Police Department, OK

EOW: Friday, January 23, 1931

Cause of Death: Gunfire

Patrolman Charles Smith

Ardmore Police Department, OK

EOW: Monday, September 27, 1915

Cause of Death: Explosion

Constable D. B. Cook

Ardmore Police Department, OK

EOW: Tuesday, November 3, 1908

Cause of Death: Gunfire

Sergeant  John A. Simms

EOW: May 20, 1920

Cause of Death: Gunfire

Detective C. G Sims

EOW: December 22, 1921

Cause of Death: Gunfire