Springettsbury officer 'spoke from the heart' in viral video
Springettsbury Township Police Officer Jamie Miller didn't know his words were being recorded as he spoke about his philosophy on policing to two strangers who'd asked his opinion.
"I just spoke from the heart," the 51-year-old officer said.
The 40-second video of Miller's response went viral after one of the men, Larry Batty-DeShields, posted it on Facebook.
"I did not see this coming," said Miller, who doesn't even have a Facebook account.
As of Thursday evening, the video had been viewed by more than 230,000 people and had accumulated more than 2,600 shares and more than 1,400 likes.
Batty-DeShields, who could not be reached for comment, noted on his Facebook page that Miller's words were "the realest thing" a cop had ever said to him.
"If you're loving people and loving life, you're gonna protect and serve the right way. Otherwise, get your butt out," Miller opined on video. "What policing is about, it's about loving your fellow man, doing what's right."
Job satisfaction: Miller, whose younger brother is a Philadelphia police officer, said officers must guard against becoming jaded.
"I want to go home at the end of the night and feel good in my heart about what I did that day," he told The York Dispatch. "I get such satisfaction out of helping people."
Miller hasn't read the roughly 100 responses (so far) to the Facebook post, and said he likely won't. He doesn't want to get a big head, he said.
The responses are positive — some gushing — including many from York County residents, police officers, emergency responders and county officials who praised Miller as being genuine and kind.
"I don't do police but I always said he was the 1 of the coolest cops that I ran into," one comment reads. "Salute to him!!"
Springettsbury Township Police Chief Dan Stump also used the word genuine to describe Miller and said the officer wears his heart on his sleeve.
"It's authentic, it's unscripted, it's raw and it's a seasoned officer speaking the truth," Stump said of the video. "When you hear him talking like that, it's no surprise at all. He's a man of character, on and off the job."
The chief said he wants his officers to engage people.
It's about people: "We want to build relationships. This is the message of our department. ... It's about the people," Stump said. "Officer Miller, in an impromptu conversation, reached more people than I probably will. ... He takes great pride in wearing the badge and he also accepts the responsibility that goes with it."
The video has been a topic of conversation wherever Stump goes, he said, including at his church, his gym and among other police chiefs.
Miller said he thinks it struck a chord on Facebook "because people are hungry for something good."
He was hired by Springettsbury Township in 2000 and lives just outside the township line with his wife, Dora.
Prior to that, he worked as a police officer in Lower Windsor Township and Wrightsville and said he believes he became an officer so he could give back to the community.
"I hope and pray that's why I do it," he said, adding he feels humbled by the responsibility.
Miller plays bagpipes with the York County Police and Fire Pipe and Drum corps, including at police officers' funerals, and has done so for many years.
Credits parents: He credits his fellow officers as well as his parents, Jamie and Geebie Miller, with molding his character.
"My mom taught me how to be a gentleman, and my dad taught me how to be a man," he said.
Miller said his faith has helped him weather tragic moments on the job.
He was one of two officers who fatally shot Todd William Shultz.
Shultz, 40, of North York, was killed when he was shot 17 times by former officer Greg Hadfield and Miller on Dec. 29, 2012, outside the 1094 Haines Road Kmart . He was wielding a table knife and scissors at the time, despite repeated orders and pleas from police that he drop the weapons. A blood test later showed he was high on cocaine.
An $8M lawsuit has been filed against the department by attorney Devon Jacob on behalf of the Shultz family.
Justifiable shooting: During a dashboard camera video of the fatal encounter, Miller and others can be heard repeatedly begging Shultz to comply: "We don't want to hurt you! ... Please drop it, sir!"
York County District Attorney Tom Kearney has cleared both officers of wrongdoing, saying they had no choice.
Police initially tried to arrest Shultz inside Kmart for shoplifting jewelry, but he resisted arrest inside, then outside, the store, according to Kearney's subsequent report about the incident.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.