By Eric Bourque
Almost three decades have passed since Keith Miller joined the RCMP’s auxiliary constable program.
Had he gone with his first instincts, he likely never would have done so.
“I was working as the janitor (at the RCMP detachment) and I was over there for a few years and a couple of members came to me and asked me to join the auxiliary program and I told them no,” Miller recalled.
“After awhile I said ‘well, I’ll try it.’ You know, just to see what it’s like.”
Miller figured he would give it maybe six months or so. As the saying goes, that was then and this is now.
“Here I am, still at it,” Miller said.
Miller’s dedication as a volunteer with the RCMP’s auxiliary constable program was recognized recently by the Nova Scotia government, which honoured him through an initiative called Unsung Heroes: Men Who Make a Difference, a project developed for this year’s African Heritage Month celebrations.
Interviewed at the RCMP’s Yarmouth town detachment, Miller remembered when he began as an auxiliary member in the early spring of 1984. It was the time of the funeral for former Yarmouth mayor Bill Mooney, he said.
Miller had yet to receive his full uniform back then, he said, and so he had to improvise, borrowing items from other people.
“I had to run around getting different things from different guys,” he said. “That was the first time I was out.”
Miller says he doesn’t recall ever making a conscious decision to stay on with the force’s auxiliary constable program.
“I really never even thought of it that way,” he said. “I just kept right on doing it. Then, all of a sudden, the years went by … the years fly by so fast.”
Looking back now, Miller is glad he gave the auxiliary a try, despite his initial reluctance.
“It really has been a good experience,” he said.
Being an auxiliary member has given him a chance to meet a lot of people, he said, and has helped him develop a better appreciation for the law.
“The RCMP does a good job around town here,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for them.”
A native of Weymouth Falls who moved to Digby at a young age, Miller came to Yarmouth when he was 15 and has lived here ever since.
Had he been able to get the required education, Miller says he probably would have sought a career in policing.
His advice to today’s youth? “Stay in school. Everything will fall into place. Just stay in school and work hard.”
Miller, 66, was one of six Nova Scotians honoured through the Unsung Heroes initiative.
Miller’s nomination said, “He exhibits traits that many police officers admire greatly. Whether it be diffusing a tense situation with his calm and gentle nature, or the compassion he displays for others, Keith has earned the respect of so many people.”
Miller has helped train dozens of recruits and has served as a mentor, teacher, coach, friend and role model to many African Nova Scotian youth.
Twenty-eight years after his first day as an auxiliary constable with the RCMP, Miller says he still wants to help.
“If the guys need me for anything, I’m always available,” he said.