Valentine Trailblazer

By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)

We salute the town of Valentine, Nebraska. It has its first woman police chief, and she is a Ram!

Dana talking to her daughter KayLynn at Valentine High School track

Following graduation with a degree in wildlife biology, Dana Miller (B.S., ’96) became a conservation officer with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, where she met her husband Frank, also a game warden. She received a promotion to supervisor, but the extensive travel involved in the job was difficult as her family grew. Dana then changed careers and became a police officer in Valentine. She has been its chief of police since 2014.

Dana describes her current position as “lots of fun and lots of challenges.” She is a “working chief,” due to the size of the department, which has six full-time officers for a town of 2,800 residents. By all accounts, she is highly respected by the community.

She is an innovative chief, overseeing effective police-community programs. She brought the National Night Out program to Valentine. It is a community-building effort that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie. The Valentine version features food and games at the Family Aquatic Center. It also features competitions among members of the local police department, fire department, and EMS. Dana describes the evening, which draws several hundred people each year, as “a hoot.”

Another program Dana started is “CSI Valentine” for advanced biology students at the local high school. Her department also offers programs for local parents, educating them on how to recognize signs of drug use in their children. Dana and other officers read to kids at the library and participate in “Coffee with Cops,” which gives community members the opportunity to converse with members of the department. In addition, Dana has coached the town swim team, and she serves as an EMT.

In her “State of the City” address to the Valentine City Council in February, she started her report by recounting the reasons she likes living in Valentine, including the “ability to be more involved,” being able “to watch the night sky without all that light pollution,” and being “able to walk wherever I want to, in a matter of minutes.”

Among the things Dana remembers most fondly from her time on the CSU campus is the people, including outstanding professors like Dr. Dale Hein in Fishery and Wildlife Biology. She also remembers wonderful camping trips with classmates and learning experiences at the Mountain Campus.

Dana and Frank have four children, who will range from 8th grade to high school senior this coming school year. Their current career aspirations include nursing, game warden, professional bull rider, and fisherman. We hope there are future Rams among them!