Jeanne Miller never set out to be a builder, but that's what she became. Not only did she build a team approach to policing in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, where she has been chief since March 1994, she also convinced her city council to build a new police headquarters for her 50-sworn officer and 18-civilian personnel department.
When Miller told the council members that they had to build for the future of the fewer than 50,000-person community and its police force, she was merely applying to her police department the future-oriented approach she has taken to her life. Miller's career in policing began in 1973 with the Detroit Police Department. In December 1991 she took early retirement as a lieutenant to become the assistant superintendent of operations for the Peoria, Illinois, Police Department, before moving to her present position.
Miller has made good on her promise to the citizens of Reynoldsburg. When she took the job as chief, the married mother of two young daughters said she wanted to 'take the department into the 21st century' but that she was also looking for a place for her husband, also a retired Detroit cop, and girls to settle because 'family comes first; it's not good for my daughters for me moving around to a new place every few years.'
At the time, her daughters were in the third and fifth grades, and she said her long-term plans were for them to graduate from high school in the community she selected. Both did and are now in college. Although neither is interested in police work, both are dating young men whose fathers are or were police officers. Family continues to come first for Chief Miller, who, aware of the high divorce rates among police couples, stressed that not only did she fulfill her wish for her children, she has remained married to the same man throughout her career moves.
Almost 10 years after her move to Reynoldsburg, her plan for her family was just as successful as her plans for the department, which in June 2000 broke ground for a new police facility, formally named the City of Reynoldsburg Public Safety Building, which opened at the end of 2001. Even the name is future oriented; it was changed from the original police department name, she said, 'in case other offices need to be located in the facility as growth spreads throughout the city.' Miller, who had presented five options to the city council when the idea for a new facility emerged, saw Reynoldsburg as a place that would grow for the same reasons her family selected it'it is an idyllic bedroom community that is home to the distribution centers of Victoria Secret and Bath & Body Works.
Whether it would be another 10 or even 20 years, she envisioned a community that would one day need as many as 75 or 100 police officers. Sounding like the holder of a graduate degree in public administration that she is, Miller described the growth rate of police officers as 1.5 per every additional 1,000 residents, and reminded the council that planning for the future is not a highly developed government skill. Her logic and her commitment to the community won them over; the plan that was selected was the most ambitious of the five options.