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Nichols plans to retire; interim police chief upset about job ads
Jane Nichols

Seven weeks after her appointment as Gainesville interim police chief, Jane Nichols has submitted her notice of retirement, giving the city 30 days to find a replacement.

Nichols, who took over the 120-person department as interim chief Jan. 1, said Friday she gave notice this week after learning the city planned to go ahead with a process of advertising the position for both internal and outside applicants.

Nichols said she took the interim post with an understanding that the city would not conduct an outside search.

"There were no promises made," she said. "Maybe it was my perception versus political reality."

Nichols, 51, has been with the Gainesville Police Department for 28 years. She was former police chief Frank Hooper’s hand-picked successor to the job. Hooper made her his assistant chief of police three years prior to his retirement.

Nichols said she is not ruling out applying for the police chief position.

"There’s still a chance I might apply," she said. "Retirement is my contingency plan."

Nichols said she has been frustrated by the politics involved with the job, saying she may not be "politically correct" enough. She said her habit of speaking her mind may not suit the role of chief.

"I feel like a square peg in a round hole," she said. "I don’t know how much I can change the hole, but I’m not going to let the hole change me.

"I say what I mean and I mean what I say, and that doesn’t always work real well in politics. It’s not always professionally in your favor to be candid and say up front what you feel."

Gainesville City Manager Kip Padgett said Friday it was always the city’s plan to advertise the chief of police position for both internal and outside
applicants. The city began advertising the job Thursday on its Web site and with the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

Padgett said he hoped to get a new chief in place by March 17, the day of Nichols’ planned retirement.

"If we are close to naming someone by then, we probably would not have another interim chief," Padgett said.

The police department’s two operations commanders, Capt. Chad White and Capt. Paul Sherman, could jointly run the department if a chief was not named by then, Padgett said.

"We’re not going to rush it," Padgett said. "If the search is not progressing as well as I would like, we would appoint another interim chief."

Padgett said Nichols’ notice of retirement "was a surprise."

"We sure hate to see her go," Padgett said. "She’s served the city well."

Nichols acknowledged if she does leave the department March 17, it would be with some sadness.

"I’ve always tried to do what’s best for the agency, and at this point in my career, I’ve struggled with what’s best for the agency and also what’s best for me," she said.

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