MADISON – Every little boy dreams of being a policeman one day.
“I guess you could say my dream came true,” said Rodney Miller.
After over 30 years in law enforcement, Miller is retiring and moving into a new chapter in his life.
“Some might think I’m crazy, but I want to substitute teach and still coach at the high school,” Miller said.
Miller’s second term as Boone County Sheriff ended on Dec. 31, 2012, and last week the county gave him a farewell party at the Boone County Courthouse.
“I want to thank everyone for this show of appreciation,” Miller said. “It was an honor for me to serve a county full of so many wonderful people. It was a privilege to work with the best guys in the state. I would go to battle with them any time.”
Miller was the first elected sheriff in Boone County that was a professional lawman.
He started with the Sheriff’s Department in 1982 as a deputy and worked his way through the ranks to Chief Deputy before being elected sheriff.
“I think Boone County has turned the corner from the good old boy politics and voters have seen the importance of electing an experienced and professional law enforcement officer to this position,” he said.
Miller said being a politician and running for office was the one thing he would not miss.
“In politics you can’t please everyone,” he said. “There were some things and some promises I wasn’t willing to do and because of that some didn’t support me. I didn’t hold any grudges and when I got into office I tried to do the best I could and leave it better than it was when I came.”
He says he’s proud of his tenure, and helped get new and better equipment for the department.
“We’ve come a long, long way over the last several years and you know, we think these guys are well trained and well equipped and the right choice to protect the people in our county,” he says.
Chief Deputy Chad Barker says he will miss Miller.
“He is not only a good law enforcement officer and Sheriff, but he is a really good man,” Barker said. “He is well-respected in the community and takes part in so much in the community. That sets a good example for all of us in the department.”
Barker said Miller is probably the best lawman he has ever seen when it comes to putting words on paper.
“Writing warrants, arrest reports or press releases to the media, he is the best,” Barker said. “He is very articulate and well spoken. I know we have learned so much from him.”
Miller was also part of the Sheriff’s Association and helped to get better retirement and benefits for sheriffs and their employees.
Miller’s story begins back in 1961 when he was born to Delvin and Ardella Miller.
“I was born in Madison, but lived and was raised in Twilight,” he said.
Miller graduated from Van High School in 1979.
“I played on the baseball and basketball teams,” he recalled. “I really enjoyed those times in my life.”
After high school, Miller went to college at West Virginia Tech.
“I majored in electrical engineering and I also played on the college baseball team,” said Miller.
He graduated on a weekend and went right to work on Monday for Appalachian Power.
He left the power company in 1982 for a pay raise, but then got laid off.
“I went down to the Boone County Sheriff’s Department and got a job as a process server,” he said.
That was under then-Sheriff Vern Harless.
A few months later, Miller took the entry level test for deputy sheriff and after passing he was hired.
“My career in uniform began in September of 1982,” he said.
In 1987, Miller met his wife Cozetta, a Scott High School graduate from Foster.
“I was a student in college and met her at a stop I made to see some teacher at the Career Center,” Miller said.
The couple has two children, Jennifer, an 18-year-old senior at Scott High and Michael, a 15-year-old sophomore also at Scott.
Throughout his career Miller has seen and done many things. He has been shot at and helped to solve many of the county’s murder cases. One of those cases is one he will never forget. It was one of the county’s most horrific murder cases in 1989.
“Every cop has that case they will never forget,” Miller explained. “Two young men had forced their way into the home of two elderly women and brutally beat them and stabbed them to death after robbing them.”
It began as a, “Who done it?” type of case.
Miller said old-fashioned, traditional types of police methods for solving crimes that are still used today were used then to solve the crime.
“We collected evidence, interviewed people in the area and put in a lot of leg work and hours to find these two young men and charge them,” Miller said.
It was one of the largest trials in the county’s history at the time.
For Miller, the case was, in his opinion, the beginning of change.
“It was like the time that I began to see a turning point in violent crimes and murders,” Miller said. “Prior to then it was very rare, but that was the beginning of a different era in which we now see horrific violent crimes and murders happening all across the country all the time.”
Miller says he still believes the county is still filled with so many good people.
“We have here what we call the five percent rule. That’s the five percent of the people causing nearly 100 percent of the problems. The public just hears the bad, but it is mostly good,” he explained. “Boone County has the best people in the world and I was so very much honored to serve them.”
Miller’s last day was Dec. 31, 2012, and newly elected sheriff Randall White took over on Jan. 1, 2013.
White is also a veteran of the Sheriff’s Department and was Miller’s training officer in the 80s.
White says he has worked with every member of the department in the past.
“I’m not coming in to a bunch of strangers,” he said. “You know, I’ve been out in the field with them. They know who I am and they know what I’ll do.”
White says he wants to continue to move the department forward and build off the work and accomplishments of Miller.
“I hope to make the department even stronger,” he said.