The thing about Dennis Miltz that most sticks out to Jeff Beahen is Miltz’s persona and charisma.
“Denny came from a period of policing where you were allowed to be a character and have personality,” current Rogers Police Chief Beahen said of the former chief. “Denny was a legend in that he was bigger than life.”
Miltz was reminiscing about a man he never worked with, but that he knew so much about, as Beahen’s father was a family associate of Miltz, and also since Beahen was the former Elk River Police Chief when Miltz held the Rogers job.
“His persona was, ‘I’m the chief, don’t mess around with Rogers,’ Beahen said. “The image was, ‘I stand for public safety,’ and boy did he ever. He was a very intelligent figure.”
Miltz, who died recently, was chief from 1971 to 2001 in Rogers, where he lived with wife of 34 years, Lois, and their children, Maren, Greg, Gretchen and Jason. He served in Rogers as the part-time chief for many years before his retirement at Minneapolis Police in 1988. Even after he stepped down as Rogers chief, he remained in the public eye as the city’s mayor for one term.
The fact that he was elected mayor said something about the trust he built in Rogers, Beahen said.
“He was chief when Rogers was a little burg,” Beahen said. “It was about being trusted. If you really look at the root, it’s community policing. You knew the chief, that was Denny’s legend.”
Longtime former Rogers Police secretary Terri Hanson agreed with that “community first” notion.
“The old residents of Rogers, if they had any problems that needed police attention, Denny would show up at supper and talk to them,” Hanson said. “And he was a mentor to so many kids who are adults now.”
Hanson said the thing she remembers most about her former boss was his love for those children.
“His big thing was the schools,” she said. “For kids to cross the road safely. That was so important to him. He had to be at that bus stop when the kids got out, he lived for that.”
She said he also installed that care into his officers. “When they weren’t busy, they would be at the schools,” she said. “That’s Denny’s legacy.”
Hanson laughed recalling Miltz’s preference for simpler policing versus today’s higher technology. “All he needed was his police radio,” Hanson said. “He used Post It notes for records. He was a good man and an old soul and he hated change.”
One change she said he was thrilled about was hiring present Captain Mike Miller from the Minnesota State Patrol.
“Mike was Denny’s right hand man,” she said. “He was so proud that Mike joined Rogers Police.”
Miller, Beahen and eight other officers were in their formal uniforms at Miltz’s recent funeral at Mary Queen of Peace Catholic Church. Beahen said it was “a moving” tribute to the department’s former chief. Two silent military guards also stood at attention near his grave site during a cold downpour, as sirens wailed from numerous police and fire vehicles that escorted Miltz to his final resting spot at the Rogers cemetery just east of Hwy. 101.
Beahen and his officers were the pallbearers. Hanson said such a goodbye was fitting for the city that “he loved.”
“Rogers Police are a great department,” she said. “Denny was the man. He really put Rogers P.D. on the map.”
Beahen added that talking to Miltz the police chief was no different than talking to Miltz as a friend.
“Denny was never concealed by his uniform or badge,” he said. “You were talking to Denny the man, the person, the individual.”