Police Week 2023: Meet Ryan Miller, Investigator
After Ryan Miller graduated from the police academy at Chippewa Valley Technical College in 2006, he wasted no time kickstarting his career. “I graduated on a Friday and got hired at RFPD the next Monday,” Miller said.
Prior to graduation, Miller had worked as a police reserve officer at the department. “I was going to school and needed a job,” Miller said. “I don’t have a big backstory, like my family was in law enforcement or anything like that. At first it was just an opportunity to make some money, and then I found that I really liked it.”
Since 2014, Miller has worked as an investigator for the department. “I’m a very analytical person, so it felt like a natural fit,” he said.
According to Miller, he and the department’s other investigator, Travis Rudesill, share many of the same responsibilities as patrol officers. “Our job is to assist them with their case work,” he explained. “We do a lot of the time-consuming activities that would be a lot harder for them to do on top of their patrol duties, like drafting search warrants.”
The patrol officers typically hand a case off to Miller and Rudesill when it grows in complexity and requires significant analytical work. Typically, that involves poring over interviews, crime scene photos, and evidence. “It’s about bringing in another set of eyes to make sure everything checks out,” Miller said.
Cases also get passed to the investigators when they lead outside of the city. That includes situations when suspects or victims don’t live in River Falls or when stolen items are pawned in other areas. “It’s easier for us to travel than patrol, so we’ll step in in those instances,” Miller said.
According to Miller, each case is like a puzzle. “Sometimes you're looking for that one piece that you know has to be there, but you’re not sure where it is,” Miller said. “When you find it, and you’re able to show the complete picture of what happened, it’s a satisfying feeling.”
Investigators and patrol officers are often exposed to secondary trauma in their line of work; sometimes, locking in that last piece of the puzzle – and gaining a full understanding of what happened – can carry significant weight.
However, being able to help victims makes it worthwhile for Miller. “The answers we find in our investigative work often aren’t pleasant or ideal, or what the victims would have hoped for,” Miller said. “But if we can at least get to a point where we can wrap our heads around why someone did what they did, then hopefully, they can begin to find some normalcy again and begin the healing process. Being able to provide that feels rewarding.”