In May of 1979, American country music artist Hank Williams Jr. released a hit song Family Tradition. While listening to the song, I started thinking about some police officers in the Houston Police Department and their family traditions. Retired police officer Jeannine Maughmer Miller, third generation HPD, immediately came to mind.
Jeannine is married to retired Houston police sergeant Frank C. Miller, who also has his own family tradition. Their daughter Meghan Jeannine Miller is fourth generation HPD. Additionally, Jeannine’s great, great, great grandfather was a police officer back in 1866. You might say Jeannine has law enforcement in her DNA.
While working at HPD, Jeannine met her husband Frank and they married in 1982. They had a son, Ryan A. Miller, and a daughter, Meghan. Ryan became a United States Marine like his father and grandfather. Meghan, like her grandfather, mother and father, became a Houston police officer and she is currently assigned to the Southeast Station.
Before Frank became a Houston police officer, he served our country during the Viet Nam conflict. Frank enlisted with the United States Marines in 1966, following in the footsteps of his father Sergeant Major Frank A. Miller.
Frank’s father was a highly decorated career Marine, who served from 1934 – 1964. During his tour of duty he participated in the Occupation of Iceland, World War II and the Korean Conflict.
Jeannine and Frank’s son Ryan A. Miller became a Marine in 2005, at the young age of 18. Like his father and grandfather Ryan received his basic training at Parris Island. It was important for Ryan to follow his family tradition and receive basic training on the same base as his father and grandfather. Ryan was proud of being a Marine and serving his country.
Ryan was deployed to Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom and was killed in action on Sept. 14, 2006, just more than three weeks from his 20th birthday. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 King James Bible. Ryan believed in God, loved his country and his Marine family.
Ryan called his mom the day before his death and was looking forward to coming home to celebrate his 20th birthday. Ryan was traveling back to base from his last patrol before returning to the States. The enemy had planted an improvised explosive device (IED) on the road they traveled and as his patrol reached the location of the bomb, a 16 year old Iraqi youth detonated the bomb.
Although Ryan was wearing his Interceptor body armor, two small pieces of shrapnel penetrated through the unprotected area of the side panels and punctured his heart and lungs. While Ryan lay dying, his Marine companions went house to house searching for the person who detonated the IED. They found the responsible youth and took the sixteen year old youth into custody.
On September 16-19, 2016, Lima Company – 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, celebrated their 10 year reunion in Pearland, Texas. During the reunion, they honored two of their brothers who were killed in action. Ryan’s death occurred on September 14, 2006, and almost a week later the battalion suffered another casualty, Corporal Yull Estrada was killed in action on September 20, 2006.
Ryan’s memory will live forever in the minds of his Marine brothers, who served with him in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Ryan’s family lost a piece of their lives when they received the news. However, they know Ryan was doing what he believed in and he made a positive impact on the lives he touched.
Ryan’s mother and father also have made a positive impact on the community they served. Frank, Ryan’s father, became a police officer after his tour in Viet Nam. Frank graduated from HPD Class No. 39, in December of 1968, and was assigned to the Patrol Division. After a few years in Patrol, Frank transferred to the Narcotics Division. Frank loved working narcotic investigations and spent 30 of his 34 years in that field of work.
During the early 70’s, Houston was experiencing problems with some doctors prescribing drugs to patients, who would in turn sell the drugs on the streets in the illegal drug market. These doctors were referred to as script doctors and they wrote countless prescriptions, putting a lot of drugs on the streets of Houston. During this time, the medical profession was protective of the doctors and building cases on doctors was extremely difficult.
To deal with this problem, HPD sent Frank to a school to learn about prescription requirements. After his training and working in the field, Frank was recognized by the courts as an expert witness regarding medical prescriptions.
One of the script doctors responsible for a lot of the drugs being sold on the streets was Doctor Ben George. At the time he was working with pharmacist James Willie Poindexter, whose office was in the same building. Working with the Texas Medical Board, Frank learned Dr. George was writing hundreds of suspicious prescriptions a month and those prescriptions were being filled by Pharmacist Poindexter.
Frank worked undercover and found no doctor’s examination was required, he only needed cash to obtain the script. The Medical Board and the HPD Narcotics Division worked many hours building their cases against this doctor and pharmacist. Frank worked the undercover assignments and obtained numerous bogus scripts from the doctor.
In the beginning Frank would pick up the script, make a copy of the script at his office and then take it to the pharmacist. The pharmacist questioned why Frank was leaving the building without filling the scripts and threatened to not fill the scripts if Frank left the building again without busting the script. This was a long time before camera phones, so a small camera was purchased for Frank to take pictures of the scripts before busting them.
Despite all the protections experienced by doctors at the time, Frank and his team put together a solid case against the doctor and pharmacist. During Frank’s time on the witness stand the State qualified him as an expert in the investigation and detection of bogus prescriptions.
Poindexter was charged and indicted on eleven (11) felony charges stemming from Frank’s investigation. Poindexter pled not guilty in the 185th District Court and a jury heard the evidence against him. On April 25, 1973, the jury found Poindexter guilty and sentenced him to prison. Poindexter appealed his conviction but the case was affirmed. On July 13, 1977, Poindexter was sent to prison.
The doctor was also charged and convicted for his part in this illegal scheme. George went to prison and passed away while serving his time. Because of this investigation, Frank played a significant role in developing HPD’s investigative approach to dealing with the medical and pharmaceutical crimes. He also was instrumental in drafting new laws to deal with fraudulent prescriptions.
During his career, Frank participated in numerous major investigations and made numerous arrests. While assigned to the Narcotics Division, Frank recognized the need for a non-uniformed officers survival course. Working with retired HPD Officer Rick Sanders, they developed and taught a survival class for undercover officers. The program was so successful a version of their class is still in existence today.
Frank was promoted to sergeant in 1977, and was assigned to the Dispatchers Division (Dispatch). It was their he met Jeannine. After supervising Dispatch for about ten (10) months, Frank was asked to return to Narcotics as a squad supervisor.
While working as a squad leader, Frank put to good use the survival tactics he had taught and developed. He takes pride in the fact that none of his squad members were shot or seriously injured while they worked in his squad.
Frank had so many awards and honors during his career, it would be impossible to name them all in this article. Frank received two life saving awards during his career at HPD. In 1992, he was given the 100 Club Award for pulling an unconscious woman from her burning apartment.
During an undercover narcotics buy, a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy was shot in the face when the deal he was working went bad. Frank was recognized for his assistance in saving the deputy’s life. No matter what his assignment, Frank always strived to make a difference. Frank was an outstanding police officer and supervisor.
Like her husband, Jeannine also made a huge difference at HPD. With law enforcement in her blood, Jeannine began her career as a civilian dispatcher. She worked as a civilian in Dispatch for two years before starting Police Academy No. 81. Upon completion of the academy, Jeannine joined a long family tradition when she became a Houston police officer.
After finishing the police academy, Jeannine was assigned to the Park Place Substation. This was the home of the legendary Park Place Rangers. During that time period, Houston had very few uniformed female police officers working in Patrol. Jeannine’s assigned beats were in rough and tumble areas of Houston and their citizens were not accustomed to seeing females on patrol.
After Jeannine finished her probationary period, it appeared the Department was going to assign her to the Jail Division, so Jeannine elected to go to Dispatch instead. In 1979, an opening in Juvenile became available and Jeannine transferred to the Juvenile night shift.
While in Juvenile, Jeannine was able to go to the Sex Crimes Unit in 1981, where she spent 16 years working some of the worst cases imaginable. However, she made a difference in so many young lives while working this assignment. She also arrested and put away numerous sexual predators.
Jeannine’s partner in Juvenile Sex Crimes, for ten (10) years, was Officer Donna J. Peck, from Academy Class No. 90. While working together, they took sign language for seven (7) months from the Woodhaven Baptist Church. After completing this class, Jeannine and Donna developed the Sign Language for Police program at HPD.
Recently, on October 18, 2016, Donna passed away from heart complications. Jeannine and Donna were extremely close and they were like sisters, both making a difference in the lives of so many.
Members of HPD have always seemed like family to me, but in Jeannine’s situation, many of her actual family were Houston police officers. Jeannine’s father was Lynn A. Maughmer, who was a motor cycle police officer from Academy Class No. 13. Lynn honorably retired on January 25, 1968.
Lieutenant Ewell Ray Goodnight was Jeannine’s grandfather. Ray served our country in World War II and upon returning to Houston, he joined HPD in 1945. HPD had suspended police classes during the war and Ray went straight into the Department without attending the police academy. Ray honorably retired from Burglary and Theft Division on March 31, 1984.
Ray had two brothers, Sergeant Glenn R. Goodnight, who attended Academy Class No. 9. Glenn honorably retired from HPD on January 24, 1982. His other brother was Harris County Sheriff’s Captain Steve Goodnight.
Jeannine’s uncle Captain Earl Maughmer Jr. attended Academy Class No. 1 and became a Houston police officer in 1939. Earl’s brother Lynn was Jeannine’s father. As you can see this is a very impressive family.
During Jeannine’s research of her family law enforcement history, she found Marshall Joseph C. Sterling, her great, great, great grandfather, was also a police officer up in Portland Maine. Jeannine found several newspaper articles about his exploits as a police career in Portland Maine. This ancestor might have been the start of her family tradition of law enforcement as far back as 1866.
Frank and Jeannine retired from HPD on January 30, 2003, but their daughter Officer Meghan Jeannine Miller is carrying on their family tradition. Meghan graduated from Academy Class No. 210 and is currently assigned to the Southeast Patrol Division, patrolling some of the same areas as her mother did back in 1978.
During my career I knew most of the members pictures in Jeannine’s family photo. Writing about Jeannine’s family has brought back a lot of great HPD memories. Hopefully you have enjoyed this story about a very special family.