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MARCO ISLAND — The saying goes, if you want to get a job done, give it to a busy man. Bill Miller certainly qualifies. The business owner and commercial landlord has a full plate of work and civic activities.
But, according to Capt. Dave Baer of the Marco Island Police Dept., Miller is getting the job done for the police department in a big way.
“Bill donates approximately one hundred hours a month to the police department,” said Baer, in roles from auxiliary police officer to trainer and firearms instructor. And Miller has taken it upon himself to provide the department with emergency equipment that was lacking, and spearheaded their efforts to give supplies and donations through the officers’ own charitable efforts.
At age 65, “I’m the oldest rookie on the force,” joked Miller. He has put in 16 hours a week for 40 weeks to go through the rigorous process required to become a police auxiliary officer.
“We do the same training as everyone,” he said, meaning the full-time police officers, “except you don’t get paid. We go through the physical and psychological screening, the lie detector test, driving, shooting, hand-to-hand combat, first responder and first aid training.” By the time auxiliary officers graduate, he said, “we have close to 1,000 hours” in training.
“I didn’t realize there was such an animal as an auxiliary policeman, but Florida has them,” said Miller. “I had only heard of volunteer firemen.”
The auxiliaries, many older, bring valuable experience to their work, he said.
“The young guys, they’re building a career. The guys in the auxiliary already got the career,” said Miller, and are not fazed when confronted with situations such as a woman in labor.
“I do road patrol, day or night, with a different officer every week. As they get comfortable with you, you do the driving, the computer work, the radio – everything they do. Their job is to sign off on you.”
Miller saw a need after the MIPD conducted a training exercise last spring, said Baer.
“Bill and his wife Catherine donated several hundred dollars worth of specialized tools, tools that could aid in the rapid response to emergent situations,” he wrote in a press release.
Specifically, the tools were bolt cutters, to enable officers to break open doors that might have been chained shut by a shooter in a school or other building. Now, each MIPD vehicle is equipped with the bolt cutters.
Miller credits his wife with the inspiration to make that donation.
“My wife, Dr. Catharine R. Cook, she’s the generosity, and the brains behind the outfit,” he said.
She is also his partner in Miller/Cook and Associates, their firm that specializes in working with colleges and universities on their recruiting efforts among high school students. In his other roles, Miller is a partner in Castle Keep Armory, “the only firearms shop on the island,” and owns the building where, as he said, both Alcoholics Anonymous and the local Moose lodge (of which he is governor) have their headquarters.
Most recently, said Baer, “Bill spearheaded a donation drive that resulted in the donation of dozens of backpacks to the Collier County Domestic Violence Shelter. Miller, Cook & Associates’ donation, through Bill, provided a substantial number of gift cards which were donated to the shelter.”
The MIPD is proud of all their auxiliaries, said Baer, but “we wanted to take a moment and recognize Bill, his wife Catherine, and the employees of Miller, Cook & Associates for going beyond the call of duty.”