Miller May Leave LAPD for FBI Post
John Miller, the Los Angeles Police Department’s counter-terrorism chief for the last three years, is close to leaving his post next month to take a job with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, multiple law enforcement sources said.
Chief William J. Bratton, who hired Miller, stopped short of confirming the reports. But in a statement issued through his spokeswoman, Mary Grady, he said, “John Miller has been contacted by the FBI and offered a position. And he is currently discussing the offer.”
It was not immediately clear what Miller’s job would be at the bureau, although it is expected that the former anchor of the ABC news magazine “20/20" would take a central role in shaping the agency’s communications strategy, a shift away from his current duties overseeing day-to-day tactical responses to terrorist threats and other critical incidents.
Miller, who was on vacation and could not be reached for comment, previously served as the face of the New York Police Department during the mid-1990s under Bratton, then an NYPD Commissioner.
FBI officials in Washington, D.C., would not comment.
When Bratton took the LAPD chief’s post in October 2002, he tapped Miller to overhaul the city’s homeland security operation in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.
Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss said Miller improved strained relations between the Los Angeles police and other law enforcement agencies.
“He and Bratton have greatly improved LAPD relations with federal law enforcement in counter-terrorism, and the whole name of the game is trust. He built that trust,” Weiss said, noting Miller had been “a real round-the-clock presence in protecting the city.”
Miller sought to redefine the way the city secured its high-threat locations as part of a regional security cooperative known as “Archangel,” which became a national model.
Miller helped bring together disparate city and county agencies and business to plan how tosafeguard critical high-risk sites, including those with symbolic importance or the potential for mass casualties.
The team also developed detailed site data so police and emergency responders would have the most up-to-date information on hand in case of an attack.
“When I came here, I found there was no threat-assessment system for our critical assets, and the information we did have was outdated, paper-based or got stale very quickly,” Miller told The Times last year.
Miller, however, had to overcome early skepticism -- and some hostility -- from LAPD rank-and-file, who complained about Miller’s trademark cigar smoking and his penchant for showing up at hundreds of crime scenes at all hours of the day or night, leading Bratton to call him “my eyes and ears.”
Some political leaders and reporters also questioned Miller’s credentials, accusing Bratton of cronyism.
Bratton, who described Miller as a confidante, responded that Miller had extensive qualifications, a huge Rolodex and he “understands how I operate.”
Miller was detained at Los Angeles International Airport in September 2004 after screeners found a loaded .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun in his carry-on bag, in violation of federal regulations that prohibit civilians from carrying weapons aboard aircraft. Miller called the incident a “mistake.”
Early in his tenure, the majority of the Los Angeles City Council refused to fund Miller’s ambitious plans to expand the department’s homeland security operation.
The council also turned down a proposal to put LAPD personnel in foreign countries to provide unfiltered intelligence about possible terrorist threats to the city. New York City placed officers abroad after 9/11.
But even without the funding, Miller, with Bratton’s blessing, was able to bolster his anti-terrorism operation by borrowing personnel from across the department.
He was also charged with responding to critical incidents and took over the Special Investigations Section after the unit was involved in a controversial shooting of unarmed robbery suspects in Northridge.
Miller made his reputation as a journalist covering Mafia don John Gotti and interviewing Osama bin Laden.
Times staff writers Richard B. Schmitt and Greg Krikorian contributed to this report.