I was saddened to see that Albany PD Detective/Spokesman James Miller was arrested and arraigned for allegedly driving drunk Friday night through Downtown Albany. Obviously I understand why the arresting officer (who has a reported criminal history of his own) had to take action when he pulled Miller over for driving without his headlights on. And I understand that this arresting officer waited and watched Miller get behind the wheel and drive off, before pouncing on the detective. I get it. The law is the law and allegedly Miller broke it, although he did not submit to a breathalyzer, so there’s no way of really proving his condition now. But I’m not going to act like driving under the influence isn’t a pretty cut-and-dry situation. This is why I hate those horrible DWI Guy radio spots, with that awful jingle and those awful sketches. I don’t know how you get somebody out of a DWI charge.
What happened to Detective Miller stinks. It stinks from pretty much any angle you see it. It’s no secret that the crime in Albany is out of control and getting worse all the time. Good friends of mine live a few doors down from where an 80 year old was robbed and beaten in broad daylight. From Richard Bailey to Hudson Ave. on St Pat’s day to the baby gangs that knife each other over uptown vs. downtown, Albany is sinking into the abyss. But in the midst of all this nonsense and violence and crime, you had the strong, steady force that was Detective James Miller. Every time somebody was raped, pummeled to an inch of his life, or flat out murdered, Det. Miller was the steely-faced spokesman who addressed news reporters professionally, stoically, personally, and promised those responsible would face justice. There was a sense of trust with Det. Miller behind his desk. He was a figure of dignity and respect, and I always feared for the perp who crossed the crime-line on his watch.
Even if Miller was an APD figurehead at the end, he was still a source of consistency in a dept. that’s seemingly had anything but in recent years. Miller has been a cop for almost twenty years and his record is top-notch. Now this black cloud is hung over his head with one year left before he can file for retirement. And don’t think for a second that criminals all over the region aren’t celebrating the possible end of the James Miller era in Albany. Just hope this arresting officer has seen L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and heard of Edmund Exley. “I wouldn't trade places with Edmund Exley right now for all the whiskey in Ireland.”
Am I saying break the law? Of course not. But the war on crime is indeed a war. And when you’re in a war, you need an army. Now the Albany PD is going back into battle with one less general at the helm. Who’s really won? Which side is actually better off today than they were last Thursday? Like I said: It stinks from any angle.
Let me make this clear: I am not saying what Miller allegedly did was right. But what he did remains to be seen. And yes I understand he can’t be the Albany PD spokesman any longer. I get that. Whatever punishment the legal system decides for him, I would like to see Mayor Gerry Jennings, someday down the road, quietly pardon Det. Miller on this incident. I believe Jennings does have that power (I could be wrong). If he doesn’t, find someone who does. Perhaps the Governor. If Miller did mess up, which all accounts say he did, is it enough of a mess up that his two-decade time with the Albany PD should be forever blackened? Would I suggest this if an accountant or car salesman got stopped for this? Nope. But I will entertain the idea for a man who's spent 20 yrs putting his life on the line (in some way) for the City of Albany. For that guy, I would consider it an option. Do you have the guts to be a cop? How about this: Do you have the guts to be a cop with Arbor Hill a stone's throw away? That’s what I’m asking.
I’ve met the detective a few times. He’s always been a real gentleman. Not one of these cop-guys who act like total meatballs and drive 90mph in reverse because they’re cops and they can. You know exactly the kind of maniac I’m talking about. Every city and town has a few. That’s not who Det. Miller is, at least from my experiences with him. He’s a man who loves the city of Albany and seemed to me like someone who would’ve taken a blow to protect one of its citizens. I really liked the guy a lot. And I felt safe when he was around, no matter where we were. Isn’t that what a cop’s job is? To make the people feel safe? Miller messed up. I get that. He gets that. But today the City of Albany should feel a little less safe.
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