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Virginia State Police Today and Tomorrow: Retired sergeant reflects on years of service

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 5:28 PM EDT
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ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Ronnie Miller made the decision to become a Virginia State Police trooper at just 18 years old. Two weeks after he told his dad, he lost both his parents in a car accident. But one of the last things he told his parents came true when he was 35 years old.

Yet 15 years after leaving local departments to join VSP, he retired.

“And I just woke up one morning and said ‘Today’s the day,’” said Miller.

Miller became one of the 77 retirees in 2020. So far in 2021, there have been 37 retirements and 18 separations. A separation includes everything that is not retirement.

“I faxed the paperwork in, and I thought this is the biggest mistake of my life, and I haven’t looked back one day and said I shouldn’t have done it,” said Miller.

Miller spent four years working in the K-9 unit, and he had received a promotion from trooper to sergeant shortly before his revelation. But the new title meant more responsibility.

“It’s all in, 365,” said Miller.

Working night shifts, and being on-call more than normal, Miller’s love for policing still existed, but he was ready to set his own schedule, and be off on weekends.

But that wasn’t his only reason for hanging up his uniform.

“The sad thing is people getting in law enforcement today will never know what it was like when I got in it, and the climate and the narrative today is so much different, and the buzzword qualified immunity, but the sad part is a lot of people don’t know what qualified immunity means. it don’t mean that a police officer can just go out and violate someone’s rights; it don’t mean that.”

Before Miller went through the Virginia State Police Academy in Richmond, he worked for departments in southwest Virginia, building a foundation for his policing career.

His dream of wearing a campaign hat, though, never left him.

“The difference to me, wanting to switch over to VSP, is there are just more opportunities, such as K-9, search and rescue, so many different opportunities to do so many different things, and you have to find what you want to do,” said Miller.

Since Miller’s retirement, he’s worked on the basement of his house, dedicated to the VSP, and his career in law enforcement.

It’s a place where he sees his uniform, and where he reflects on the hardest days.

“You know we’ll never forget when April 16th happened in 2007. I responded the whole way, running code the whole way. That was a Monday, I left on Friday, in the same uniform I had on since Monday, but that didn’t bother you, because you’re doing something that needed to be done, part of history.”

But his basement is also a place where he can rejoice in his dedication, and hopefully inspire future troopers.

“I’d like to think that someone is a trooper today because of something I did,” said Miller.

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