The organizers of the event–and some of the elected officials who glommed onto the event–swore up and down that the display of support was not being done for political purposes, but rather to show support for the local cops after national stories had placed some police officers in difficult situations.
One month later, the administration was hard selling a story to every media outlet about one of Oak Lawn’s longtime police officers, Dan Miller, who found himself charged with two misdemeanors and a DUI charge.
In that story, the police chief, Michael Murray, made it clear that he was initiating disciplinary action against Miller and hinted that Miller may be through as an Oak Lawn Police Officer.
“It may be resolved before or after the criminal proceedings,” the police chief said.
The one media outlet that printed the story made sure that they threw in allegations from 12 years ago that made Miller look like a hot head but never even resulted in any disciplinary charges, let alone a judgment against the village.
Miller can’t talk to the media, so nobody has been able to hear his side of the story. We’re sure he would love to tell his side of the story, but the Police Department won’t let him speak.
With misdemeanor criminal charges pending, Chief Murray knows that Miller is not likely to testify in any internal investigation. Yet the chief appears to be ready to move ahead and ruin Miller’s career.
Hero is a word that is overused. In the case of Dan Miller, it may not be used enough.
He has served Oak Lawn as a Police Officer for about 17 years. He’s been on the street making the people of Oak Lawn safe day in and day out. During that time he has had an exemplary record with the department. That’s pretty heroic.
But there is much more to Dan Miller. He’s also a war hero.
Miller served three tours in Iraq as a Marine Sergeant-Major. He lost 19 men under his command during the Battle of Fallujah, which is widely cited as the most intense combat fought by the U.S. Marines since the Vietnam War.
Many of the soldiers that came back from Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We don’t know if Miller suffered from PTSD because he can’t talk to the media.
Miller reportedly had a clean record in the Marines. By all accounts, he served heroically and with honor.
The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office has made serious allegations against Miller, who has been temporarily relieved of his police duties. He has turned his service weapon into the department as he battles against these charges.
We don’t know if the charges are true or whether the Will County State’s Attorney can sustain a conviction. At this point, we’ve only heard one side of the story.
But we do know that Dan Miller has earned the benefit of the doubt from us, from the people of Oak Lawn, from the blue ribbon group, and from the politicians in Oak Lawn.
It took seven months for the Will County State’s Attorney to file charges and even then, they only filed misdemeanor charges were filed.
The village’s internal investigation can wait for the criminal case to conclude. If he’s found guilty, then by all means, take whatever steps are appropriate. But if he’s found not guilty, then the department owes it to every policeman and every veteran who has served this country to drop the disciplinary charges.
Dan Miller is a hero. Maybe the blue ribbons mean something or maybe they don’t mean anything.
Real support for the police comes in real life situations. Like this one. Who will stand with a real hero?