Every time Larry H. Miller would talk about passing the Utah State Capitol Building, on the way to and from the Lafayette Elementary School1, it was obvious that his encounter with the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) officers assigned to headquarters (3rd floor, State Office Building behind State Capitol) had a profound impact on his interest in law enforcement.
I don’t know how old Larry was at the time nor do I know who the UHP officers were that shared their police experiences and handguns. I do know this… Larry was impressed and never forgot these cherished childhood memories.
Fast forward to the year 1999 – the first time I met Larry in person. I was working for the Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division of the Utah State Tax Commission and Larry was a long time member of the Motor Vehicle Advisory Board…a position appointed by the governor. After one of the meetings, Larry told me about his experiences with the UHP years ago. He loved law enforcement and was especially impressed with the straighttalking crime-fighter, Captain Kent Jorgensen and the dedicated employees at the Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division. Little did I know that the stage was set for some unbelievable things to happen for the betterment of law enforcement in Utah, thanks to Larry H. Miller.
When I came back to the UHP in 2001, there was a vacancy for an Honorary Colonel in the Salt Lake County area. I nominated Larry to fill the opening and, with the support of the UHP Honorary Colonels, a meeting was arranged to offer Larry (who was an extremely busy man) the position. Honorary Colonels Richard Carling, Mark Fuellenbach and I met with Larry—-Richard made the offer and Larry accepted. During this meeting, Larry again shared his story about being a kid going to school at Lafayette Elementary School and his experiences with the UHP. He also shared his vision for a statewide car rally that later turned into Utah Fast Pass.
During the early part of the 2000’s, the UHP/DPS goal was to increase the wages for all sworn officers at DPS. We were paying officers way below the market and losing people to other agencies as quickly as they were trained. Larry was instrumental in helping us make headway in achieving this goal, along with many other Honorary Colonels, the governor and legislative supporters. In fact, Honorary Colonel Karl Malone (thanks to Larry) made a personal visit to legislators on behalf of the troopers (we got an additional million dollars that year). Larry was always available to make phone calls (and did so many times) to legislators and the Governor to discuss UHP/DPS concerns about bills, funding and policies.
A New Police Academy
As most sheriffs, chiefs, officers and employees could attest— the Police Academy attached to the Rampton Complex in West Valley City was sadly lacking in classroom space, accommodations for students, and needed some extensive repairs. It was definitely time for a new police academy, but the demand for taxpayer dollars made it tough to compete for state funding of a new building…along comes Larry H. Miller. As I recall, we were sitting in a meeting of the Honorary Colonels at UHP Headquarters when the issue came up. All of the other business had been completed and Commissioner Bob Flowers brought the issue of obtaining funding for a new Police Academy to the table.
I am not sure any of us in attendance were aware that Larry had committed to build one more building on the Salt Lake Community College campus located west of I-15 in Sandy. The wheels were churning…I was afraid we were asking too much of Larry on this issue. But, the visionary process had begun—how about a merger between law enforcement and education. The rest is history.
On Thursday, November 30, 2006, Honorary Colonel Larry and Gail Miller dedicated and donated a $21 million dollar building to Salt Lake Community College (SLCC)ii to be used by the Utah Department of Public Safety/Utah Highway Patrol/Utah Department of Corrections as a police training facility and by SLCC for use in achieving their education mission. Now, eight years later, think about the difference this facility has had on the professionalism of Utah’s law enforcement/correctional community.
Utah Fast Pass/Beehive Drive
As mentioned earlier, Larry continued to envision a car rally patterned after others around the country (especially Colorado). As he told me, there are people who own “high-end” expensive vehicles that would like to drive them on Utah‘s scenic roadways. However, they were concerned about security because of the cost of their vehicles. Hence, Utah Fast Pass was born and in the Summer of 2006 the first road rally occurred. I will admit, I didn’t realize the economic impact this event would have on the communities we traveled through. I witnessed drivers donate “thousands of dollars”, on-the-spot, to good causes around Utahiii. It was amazing! They were so generous.
In the end, Utah Fast Pass (now known as Beehive Drive) has donated thousands of dollars to the UHP Honoring Heroes Foundation and the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial Committee (along with other law enforcement memorial organizations). This organization has also provided thousands of dollars in scholarships to students in rural Utah. The drivers, while blessed with resources that many in law enforcement can only dream about, are so generous with their money and more than willing to contribute to those in law enforcement. Once again, Larry’s vision has paid huge dividends to Utah’s law enforcement community and especially to the Utah Highway Patrol/Utah Department of Public Safety.
i Larry H. Miller and Doug Robinson. Driven. (Deseret Book, 2010). See picture of the “Capital Hill Gang” between pages 32 and 33.
ii Nate Carlisle. New Police Academy Dedicated in Sandy. Salt Lake Tribune, November 30, 2006.
iii Dixie Brunner. Fast Cars and Philanthropy. Southern Utah News, August 12, 2009.