Ex-Detroit cop 'an exceptional police officer'

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
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Stevan Miller held multiple roles with the Detroit Police Department from 1977-2005 and later joined the executive protection team for the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.

When he wasn’t serving on the Detroit Police Department or providing high-profile security, Steve Miller loved coaching youth, whipping up mouthwatering entrees and surprising loved ones with his creativity and generosity. 

The deftness earned him a moniker.

“He was a Superman to everybody,” said Rico Williams, a longtime friend. “Steve was a guy who would do anything for you.”

Mr. Miller died Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, following complications from a heart condition,  relatives said. He was 63.

Much of the Detroit native’s life revolved around law enforcement.

He spent more than 20 years as a police officer. Starting in patrols with various precincts, Mr. Miller went on to join the DPD Special Crimes section, as well as surveillance, according to his resume and associates.

Though his tenacity led colleagues to sometimes call him “Pitbull,” the officer also was known for a soothing disposition.

“He was the kind of the person that would turn a potentially violent and volatile situation into a very calm and serene one,” said Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, Detroit’s former police chief. “He was never one to escalate a bad situation. I’ve seen him deal with dangerous criminals who tend to be combative, and calm them to the point that by the time they got to the station, they were laughing like friends.

"He had a way of dealing with folks that would encourage them to see that the route they were taking was not in their best interest … He was an exceptional police officer.”

Mr. Miller also demonstrated courage on the job.

In 1994, he was assigned to a violent crimes task force that trailed a group accused of posing as police while invading homes to steal items and attack inhabitants.

One night, when authorities closed in on the group during another fake raid, the suspected leader, Obie Carter III, escaped and shot at them while on the run, The Detroit News reported at the time.

As recounted in an episode of the TV series “The FBI Files,” Miller chased the man and fired the gunshot that fatally wounded him.

His actions prevented a tragedy by rushing to act before other officers reached the criminal and more gunfire, recalled Detroit police Capt. Conway Petty, another longtime colleague.

“Everybody can’t rise to that level when it becomes a panic situation,” he said. “It takes a special person to not care for themselves, to eliminate the threat.”

During and after the department duties, Mr. Miller, who also gained specialized training and earned accolades, wielded his expertise in security detail.

Working privately or with a firm, he spent years protecting celebrities such as Sinbad, Patti LaBelle, Alicia Keys, R. Kelly, Toni Braxton and others, according to his resume.

He also led teams at major events such as the BET Awards and Soul Beach Music Festival out of state, said his wife, Malkia Miller.

Though Mr. Miller did not fit the conventional view of a physically imposing guard, she said, “He was like: ‘You don’t have to be the biggest to be the baddest.' He just knew how to do the job.”

Born July 26, 1955, in Detroit, Stevan Curtis Miller grew up on the city's west side and graduated from Mumford High School. He briefly attended college and worked several jobs before enrolling in the police academy, relatives said.

Mr. Miller joined DPD in 1977, eventually attained the rank of sergeant, and worked with the Police Athletic League as well as a narcotics section.

“He was probably the best police officer I ever came across,” Petty said. “He just wanted to help make Detroit a better place overall for people to live in and raise their families.”

After retiring from force in 2005, Mr. Miller joined the executive protection unit at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Napoleon said.

In his down time, Mr. Miller also coached basketball and football, and enjoyed maintaining relationships with neighborhood residents, his wife said. “He was all about the community.”

That spirit also steered charitable efforts he pursued through the Motor City Peacekeepers, a club for bikers. 

“He goes over the top with his last dollar just taking care of people,” said Williams, the group’s vice president. “This guy was phenomenal.”

Beyond that, Mr. Miller doted on his family, regaling them with homemade bread, cinnamon rolls, peach cobbler, chili and more.

“Steve was the chef,” his wife said. “He was an excellent cook.”

Other survivors include sons Stevan Jr. and Donavan; a daughter, Tristan ; a granddaughter, Melina; siblings Carol Wright, Andrea, Robert Jr., Darryle, Aaron, Leslie and Tiffany.

He was predeceased by his parents, Robert and Anna Miller, and two siblings, Craig and Tracey.  


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