Gainesville Police Department Deputy Chief Jane Nichols has been named interim chief and will replace retiring Chief Frank Hooper.
Nichols, who first met Hooper when they were students at Riverbend Elementary, has served with Hooper on the force for nearly 29 years. She was named deputy chief in 2007 and will begin serving as interim chief on Jan. 1.
"I’m very excited, I just wish Frank wasn’t leaving," she said. "He’s meant a lot to us. He’s a lot more than just our boss."
Nichols was announced as interim chief on Monday. Gainesville City
Manager Kip Padgett said Nichols will continue in her role as interim chief until a permanent replacement for Hooper is found.
"She has served side-by-side with (Hooper) for her entire career and knows the people of the city," Padgett said in a news release. "As a nationally accredited department, the entire police staff is highly trained and while we will miss (Hooper), I feel certain we will carry on in the most professional manner."
Padgett said he and City Council members will evaluate early in 2010 how to proceed with the search for a new chief.
Nichols will oversee 100 sworn officers and 25 supporting personnel. She said the department’s greatest challenge in the coming year is to manage increasing residential burglaries and auto break-ins with uncertain funding sources.
"We’ll do whatever we have to do to get the job done," she said. "We may not have the same quality of cars or whatever, but we’ll have the same quality of people. Our quality of services will stay the same."
Nichols said she feels she has inherited a police department that Hooper ran smoothly for 12 years and has no plans to make many changes.
"He has so honorably and nobly filled the position of chief that I just want to continue that tradition," she said. "I just want to keep doing what we’ve been doing together for the last 29 years, which is protecting and serving this community."