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Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
Gail and Larry Miller are presented as an honorary warden of the prison complete with a key from Department of Corrections Executive Director Scott Carver at the dedication of the new Larry and Gail Miller Public Safety Education and Training Center at the Sandy campus of Salt Lake Community College in Sandy, Utah, Nov. 30, 2006.

You know this guy as "Larry."

Hundreds of police officers in Utah also knew him as "Colonel."

Larry H. Miller's philanthropy toward law enforcement earned him the rank of an honorary colonel in the Utah Highway Patrol, a position as honorary warden in the Utah Department of Corrections, numerous other accolades and a special place in the hearts of many cops.

"He was a true friend and supporter of law enforcement," said Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Lance Davenport.

Miller bankrolled the multi-million dollar police academy in Sandy that bears his name, helped fund a memorial at the Capitol for murdered police officers as well as other things that didn't make headlines.

"We tried for years to get the Legislature to appropriate money to build an academy," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff recalled Friday. "We finally went to Larry Miller and told him our problem. He said, 'No problem. But I'm not going to give the money to the state and have the state build it because you guys take too long. I'll build it.' He built it and handed over the keys."

Davenport remembered meeting Miller several times and hearing him enthral DPS employees with tales of Utah Jazz legends John Stockton and Karl Malone. As a big supporter of law enforcement, Miller often used more than his checkbook to help underfunded police agencies.

"A man of his influence and stature carries a lot of weight with the Legislature and others," Davenport said. "I appreciated his common-sense approach to things and cutting through all the red tape and complications to get things done."

Shurtleff, who said he knew Miller through charity events and society functions, was struck by his spontaneous generosity.

"He didn't make a big splash about it, but he did it," the attorney general said. "No strings attached. Just like that, he'd give it. I think over time he gave a substantial amount of money."

At the Larry and Gail Miller Public Safety Education and Training Center (on Salt Lake Community College's Larry H. Miller campus) in Sandy, Lt. Steve Winward of the DPS Peace Officer Standards and Training was stunned.

"It's a huge loss for us," Winward said Friday. "Especially all the philanthropy work he's done with the department and POST and his generous donations to get the campus. It's a huge loss."

E-MAIL: bwinslow@desnews.com