NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller’s groundbreaking career in law enforcement, which included serving under four commissioners, stints in the federal government and with the Los Angeles Police Department, came to a festive and salutary end Friday as he walked out of police headquarters for the last time and into civilian life — and quite possibly another TV news job.
Miller’s traditional “walkout” came with applause and a final salute from a pipes and drum unit of the NYPD band as he capped his nearly nine years as the department’s top counterterrorism and intelligence executive, during a period when the police were tested by protests, defunding and a continuing terrorism threat.
“I am leaving the best job in the world, and by this job, I don’t mean just our job ... that is because it is the best people in the world,” Miller, 63, told a crowd at a farewell luncheon given for him at police headquarters in Manhattan.
A lifelong police buff who started covering cops as a teenager in his native Montclair, New Jersey, riding his bike to crime scenes, Miller parlayed his never-ending obsession with police reporting into a string of television jobs in the competitive New York City market. He was working for CBS News when former Commissioner Bill Bratton tapped him in 2014 for the NYPD terrorism post
Under Bratton, and then commissioners James O’Neill, Dermot Shea and Keechant Sewell, Miller ran a wide-ranging NYPD intelligence and counterterrorism operation that earned a worldwide reputation for analysis, information sharing and prevention. Miller was deeply involved in major — and terror-free — events such as the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Fourth of July fireworks and New Year’s Eve celebrations. Miller, however, did investigate three terror incidents that occurred during his tenure: the Greenwich Village bombing of September 2016, the October 2017 West Side vehicle attack that killed several pedestrians and the subway bombing of December 2017, in which the suspect injured himself and several passengers.
After the luncheon, Miller and his wife of more than 18 years, Emily Miller, walked past lines of uniformed and civilian NYPD personnel, some federal officials and journalists to a waiting vintage NYPD cruiser. Miller shook hands and took time to pet police dog Yogi, and then he and his wife got into the cruiser for a ceremonial final drive outside of headquarters' gates.
It was unclear what Miller would do as a civilian, although last month when his departure was announced Miller said he intended to stay “a part of the law enforcement and intelligence conversation.” Police colleagues expect that he will soon land a news job.
Miller, who has a home on Shelter Island, also has been acting deputy commissioner of public information since 2021. His journalism roots are deep: His father, also named John, was for a time a reporter for the old New York Inquirer, which became the National Enquirer, and later was a freelance columnist. As a TV reporter, Miller made his mark dogging the late Gambino crime boss John Gotti and, in 1998, had a major scoop when he interviewed terror chief Osama bin Laden.
Miller’s father and mother, Cindy, who was pregnant with her son at the time, had dinner on May 2, 1957, with celebrated mobster Frank Costello at a midtown restaurant just before someone — police believe it was the late Vincent Gigante — shot the gangster in an attempted assassination. Costello’s wife, Loretta, became Miller’s godmother.
Years later, joking about his parents pre-shooting dinner with Costello, Miller would say, "I was there but didn’t see or hear anything."