Miller planning to retire from sheriff’s office at end of year

BUCKHANNON – A longtime law enforcement officer plans to retire from the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office at the end of the year.

Chief Deputy of Administration Virgil Miller said Tuesday he’s set a tentative retirement date of Dec. 31, 2013. His decision comes as a result of knowledge the post he currently occupies – chief deputy of administration – was designed to be a temporary position only.

“When I decided to stay on (after current Upshur County Sheriff Dave Coffman was elected), that was part of the consideration… the (Upshur County) commission did not want it to be a permanent spot,” Miller said.

But just because Miller’s turning in his badge doesn’t mean he’s retiring from public service. One option he’s considering is a run for Upshur County Commissioner in 2014, Miller said, noting that he’s heard Upshur County Commission President Donnie Tenney doesn’t plan to seek another term.

“Donnie’s not running again,” Miller said, “and I just don’t see myself as one going home and sitting in a rocking chair. I want to stay busy, I want to do something.”

Miller, who’s worked in law enforcement for 39 years, says campaigning for a seat on the Upshur County Commission isn’t the only option he’s considering post-retirement.

“I’ve got several different irons in the fire, and some of them may surprise you,” he said. Miller declined to comment further, but did say he’s considering “law enforcement-related” positions.

After all, law enforcement is all he’s ever known, career-wise.

A native of Webster Springs, Miller began his law enforcement career as a member of the military police in the U.S. Army. After three years of service to his country, he worked as a deputy for the Webster County Sheriff’s Office for the following two years.

“Then, I came to Upshur County and I’ve been here ever since… as a deputy and chief deputy and the sheriff,” Miller said. He also headed the Buckhannon Police Department for three years as its chief and served a stint as an Upshur County magistrate.

“I liked the work,” Miller said of being a magistrate, “but I couldn’t stay busy enough. I’ve got to be on the move, I’ve got to be working, I’ve got to be doing something.”

So he’s stayed busy by being elected sheriff four times – and serving four four-year terms.

“I served two terms and took an eight-year break and came back and served two more four-year terms,” he said.

And if it weren’t for term limits – according to West Virginia State Code sheriffs may only serve two consecutive four-year terms – Miller would have run again in 2012.

“Most definitely without a question,” he said. “I just like the sheriff’s office. I like everything we do – it’s so versatile. We deal with civil matters, we deal with the courts, the versatility of the sheriff’s office is just unique.”

Miller jokes that in his current capacity he does “whatever the sheriff (Dave Coffman) doesn’t want to do.”

As an early riser, Miller’s typical workday begins at about 6:30 a.m., when he checks in with the midnight shift to see if he can be of assistance to them.

“I take a look at our court coverage for the day, transfer prisoners in and out, process service and I also answer calls whenever they need somebody to fill the gap,” he said. “Whether it’s a domestic (incident) or an accident, if I’m needed, I’ll go.”

“Over the years, I’m gotten more mellow,” he said, reflecting on how he’s changed since he began his law enforcement career in 1974. “That helps a lot, especially when you roll onto the scene. Getting all jacked up and excited sometimes is not good. If you remain calm and try not to get so amped up, I think that’s going to help calm the situation.”

As a veteran law enforcement officer, Miller has some advice to offer newbies.

“Whether it’s a new deputy or a new anything really, I think you really need to be looking at the long term,” he said. “They need to decide whether (police work) is going to be a career or just going to be a job for them. I think they should weigh the long-term benefits very heavily in deciding whether that’s what they really want to do or not.”

Contact Katie Kuba by email at Follow her on Twitter at IMT-Kuba.