MADISON, W.Va. — Former Boone County Sheriff Rodney Miller indicated his first legislative session was everything he thought it would be and then some.
Miller (D-Boone) went into the session with the idea of trying to remedy a number of problems he had realized during his time in law enforcement. Looking back over the 60 day session, he is pleased to have accomplished at least a few of those changes.
One bill Miller backed, which now awaits the governor’s signature, is legislation to crack down on organized shoplifting.
“I thought a shoplifting was a shoplifting throughout most of my career,” he said. “I found out there’s more to it than that.”
Miller said the bill he helped foster would work toward eliminating organized shoplifting in an organized retail criminal enterprise. Scurrilous shop owners often use those who are drug dependent to do their bidding and send them out with a list of items they want for their stores.
“Instead of going through a regular distributor, they would pray on these folks to go out and go to numerous stores to steal everything from laundry detergent, to food, clothing and electronics,” Miller explained. “They would bring the items back to that location where they would be paid 30 cents on the dollar.”
The merchandise would then be sold in the establishment at regular retail prices.
Another bill Miller said he was passionate about originated in the Senate, but had a close connection to him. It’s a bill which deals with rendering aid to an individual who overdoses on drugs. One of the catalysts came out of Boone County where two men were taking drugs and when one overdosed, the other did nothing to help.
“They thought the were buying heroin, in all reality they were buying fentanyl,” said Miller. “When this young man had an adverse reaction, his body began to shut down. The two other people he was with basically drove him around all night until he died.”
Miller said it was even more tragic that the group drove passed fire departments, ambulance stations, and even a hospital during the night and didn’t stop. If they had stopped, a good Samaritan law passed several years back would have protected them from prosecution.
“I’m not sure which one would be worse,” said Miller. “Watching someone die in front of you and doing nothing to help them or putting a gun between their eyes and pulling the trigger.”
Miller believes the two bills, if signed into law, will close some loopholes in the state’s criminal code and will be helpful in the future.