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Mecosta County Sheriff, Ferris State School of Criminal Justice Alum Brian Miller puts down roots in the Big Rapids area while making a positive impact

Brian Miller’s interest in law enforcement stretches back to when he was reading “Encyclopedia Brown” books as a boy, creating an office in his garage where neighborhood kids brought him cases to solve.

Miller is still cracking cases, today as Mecosta County sheriff.

He was drawn to Ferris State University to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and set deep roots in the Big Rapids community. Miller said Ferris State was perhaps the only place to achieve that goal.

“The stature of Ferris’ Criminal Justice program was very appealing, and honestly, the admissions standards allowed me to prove myself since I was not a top student in my graduating class at Jackson Lumen Christi High School,” Miller said. “I needed to mature academically, and Ferris gave me the opportunity to prove myself worthy and build on my interpersonal skills by working as a resident advisor in Pickell Hall and Masselink Hall.”

Miller demonstrated his matured abilities academically and through his campus community service, while building upon a lifelong desire to see justice served and observed.

“I was very interested in advancing a family tradition since my grandfather was a detective sergeant in the Jackson Police Department,” he said. “I would hear the scanner traffic when I visited his house as a young child. My interest in law enforcement and reading led me to my joy of reading ‘Encyclopedia Brown’ books. That led me to set up an office in our garage, where I would meet with neighborhood kids who brought me cases to solve in our area.”

Due to his focus and philosophy, Miller found that hard work and dedication to his desired field were possible and pleasing.

“Being a resident advisor, working night security in the residence halls, returning to Jackson in the summers, and working in a tool shop taught me how important responsibility and managing my time was as I met my educational expenses without taking on much student debt. I also was a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity member and made many lifelong friends in Ferris’ chapter of Delta Chi.”

Miller earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice in 1994 and put his skills to use with the security staff of what is now Trinity Health Hospital in Grand Rapids.

“The job market was very competitive after I earned my degree, but I remained confident in my abilities and my foundation of learning from Ferris,” Miller said. “In January 1996, the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety and Albion’s police department were my best prospects to join a law enforcement community. I was hired as a patrol officer by stressing my familiarity with the community and law enforcement operations in the Big Rapids area.”

Miller said Big Rapids Department of Public Safety Director Kevin Courtney’s acquaintance with my mother through the youth group at Jackson’s Queen of the Miraculous Medal Catholic Church also was a factor in his decision to select Big Rapids.”

Miller approached each workday as an ongoing opportunity to improve his law enforcement and public service skills.

“I was so pleased to begin my career in a familiar environment with peers I respected,” Miller said. “I vowed I would seek to complete each assignment to the best of my ability, giving my all while on the job, that I would never be outworked. Sports metaphors are not the basis of every person’s philosophy, but I found that my favorite Major League Baseball player, Tony Gwynn, was tenacious about his pursuit of excellence, from his father’s simple observation that ‘If you work hard, good things will happen’ to being ‘a big believer in whatever you want, that you have to put the work into it.’”

The focus on excellence served Miller well in a 25-year career with the Big Rapids DPS that saw him advance from patrol officer duties to serve on the Central Michigan Enforcement Team, a multi-jurisdictional drug unit, his roles as a school liaison officer and as a detective, while also serving as Barryton’s police chief.

“I would see my classmates from my days in the Criminal Justice program at Ferris when they returned to campus at Homecoming. We had a chance to catch up on our careers,” Miller said. “Big Rapids was a point of departure for so many of them, but time has a way of demonstrating all the positives in this community. It is a great place to raise a family, which is not easy to recognize when you are coming through college.”

When Ferris State alumnus and Mecosta County Sheriff Todd Purcell decided not to seek another term in 2020, Miller took stock of his professional life related to the community.

“There was a great deal of satisfaction in my role with the Big Rapids DPS, but I saw this as my opportunity to aspire by making a difference, not just a living,” Miller said. “I am committed to that idea and philosophy and felt through my many dealings with the sheriff’s department over my career that it was an essential ‘second home,’ where I could serve this community.”

Since being sworn in as Mecosta County’s sheriff, Miller brought a collaborative approach to his local law enforcement leadership role.

“Incidence of computer crime continues to find its way into our area, whether it’s a hacking of someone’s finances or a child is being targeted by an online predator,” Miller said. “Human trafficking is not someplace else’s tragedy or problem. It happens everywhere. I believe collaboration with other agencies is important because we cannot do our best to fight these crimes by going it alone. Our sworn duty is to protect and serve the public in situations that can be straightforward or difficult and sinister.”

The sheriff’s department is well situated to contribute to societal issues and safeguard the public, thanks to a significant percentage of the officers being Ferris State graduates.

“We have more than a dozen staff members who completed Law Enforcement Academy or Criminal Justice degrees at Ferris and serve in the department,” Miller said. “When I took formative training from the Michigan Sheriff’s Association after my election, around 20 first-term leaders participated, and the ‘Go Dawg’” calls were offered regularly in that group. It was impressive to me, then and now, to know Ferris CJ and program graduates are making a difference across Michigan.”

In that group of Ferris alumni serving in the department, Miller said Jason Losinski, a former Ferris football player and Criminal Justice graduate, and the department’s School Resource Officer, deserved mention. Miller understands the significance of Losinski’s role in the Big Rapids and Chippewa Hills school districts.

“I was Big Rapids’ first school liaison officer, which was really seven of the best years of my professional experience,” Miller said. “It is such an important component of our service to the community, to have presence and impact with young people at an important time in their lives. Jason has been a coach for his children and in the Big Rapids school system, so he can bond with youngsters in so many ways.”

Just past the midpoint of his first term as sheriff, Miller has come to a certain perspective on how he might continue, culminate, and contemplate his post-professional life.

“It is up to the voters, of course, but I would love to serve three terms in this office,” Miller said. “My passion for contributing to this community is very strong, but I am focused on being productive, which would call for just over another decade of giving all I can every day on the job. I think that would be a sufficient offer of my abilities and am confident those I work and collaborate with would be well capable of continuing their good works on behalf of those we serve. To reach 38 years in law enforcement in this community would make my life to follow in an ‘empty nest’ an interesting and enjoyable prospect.”

Weather

Local High School Schedule & Scores

CSAA Baseball

SATURDAY 4/13/24

White Cloud 9 @ Holton 5

White Cloud 0 @ Merrill 13 (6inn)

Clare 16 @ Chip Hills 7 (4inn)

Greenville 9 @ Chip Hills 9 (8inn)

Kent City 1 @ Whitehall 16 (4inn)

Fremont 3 @ Kent City 0

 

MONDAY 4/15/24

Shepherd 3 @ Big Rapids 9

Shepherd 12 @ Big Rapids 0 (5inn)

Newaygo 0 @ C Montcalm 1

Newaygo 0 @ C Montcalm 2

 

TUESDAY 4/16/24

Chip Hills 7 @ Tri County 3

Chip Hills 3 @ Tri County 2 (5inn)

Lakeview 2 @ Morley Stanwood 8

Lakeview 5 @ Morley Stanwood 11

Kent City 5 @ Newaygo 10

Kent City 4 @ Newaygo 11

Grant 1 @ Reed City 2

Grant 7 @ Reed City 5

C Montcalm 13 @ White Cloud 2

C Montcalm 2 @ White Cloud 6

 

THURSDAY 4/18/24

Shelby @ Kent City

Hesperia @ Lakeview

 

FRIDAY 4/19/24

White Cloud @ Big Rapids

Tri County @ C Montcalm

Newaygo @ Grant

Morley Stanwood @ Kent City

Reed City @ Chip Hills

 

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CSAA Softball

SATURDAY 4/13/24

Grant 0 @ Ravenna 15 (3inn)

Tri County 0 @ Ravenna 10 (CH Forfeit)

Chip Hills 0 @ Clare 16

Chip Hills 0 @ Vestaburg 12

MONDAY 4/15/24

Shepherd 2 @ Big Rapids 12 (5inn)

Shepherd 9 @ Big Rapids 6 (8inn)

Newaygo 15 @ C Montcalm 11

Newaygo 1 @ C Montcalm 14 (5inn)

Lakeview 1 @ Vestaburg 16 (4inn)

Lakeivew 4 @ Vestaburg 10 (8inn)

TUESDAY 4/16/24

Chip Hills @ Tri County

Lakeview @ Morley Stanwood

Kent City 1 @ Newaygo 4

Kent City 0 @ Newaygo 11 (5inn)

Grant 1 @ Reed City 5

Grant 1 @ Reed City 16 (3inn)

C Montcalm @ White Cloud

THURSDAY 4/18/24

Greenville @ C Montcalm

Sparta @ Kent City

Hesperia @ Lakeview

FRIDAY 4/19/24

White Cloud @ Big Rapids

Tri County @ C Montcalm

Newaygo @ Grant

Morley Stanwood @ Kent City

Reed City @ Chip Hills

SATURDAY 4/20/24

Lakeview @Beaverton Tournament

Big Rapids @ TC West

CSAA Baseball Standings

1) Big Rapids: 2-0 | +31 -6 (+25)

2) Morley Stanwood: 2-1 | +24 -17 (+7)

3) Chippewa Hills: 2-1 | +22 -14 (+8)

4) Reed City: 2-1 | +17 -11 (+6)

5) Newaygo: 3-3 | +30 -24 (+6)

6) Central Montcalm: 3-3 | +22 -21 (+1)

7) Kent City: 2-2 | +32 -37 (-5)

8) Grant: 2-2 | +18 -12 (+6)

9) White Cloud: 1-1 | +8 -15 (-7)

10) Tri County: 0-3 | +11 -41 (-30)

11) Lakeview: 0-4 | +23 -41 (-18)

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