Starkville Police Chief Frank Nichols talks to aldermen during Tuesday's meeting. Nichols, who has served with Starkville Police Department since 1992, announced his intention to retire at the end of the year. Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff
June 5, 2019 10:24:03 AM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
Starkville Police Chief Frank Nichols announced his intention to retire at the end of the year during Tuesday's board of aldermen meeting.
Nichols has served with Starkville Police Department since 1992 and has been police chief since February 2014.
Speaking to The Dispatch after Tuesday's meeting, Nichols said he came to the decision to retire after a lot of consideration.
"I wanted to actually do two more years but after thinking about, considering and praying about it, and listening to God's direction, I'm going to go ahead and be obedient and do it in December," he said.
Mayor Lynn Spruill said the city will take time before beginning to advertise for Nichols' successor.
She added that Nichols' service has been an asset for the city.
"Chief Nichols has been an incredible public servant and we will miss him greatly," Spruill said. "He's served a great number of years and the city of Starkville is better for it."
Nichols said he's proud of the achievements SPD has accomplished in his time with the department. SPD moved into the first building designed solely for use as a police station in the city's history in 2017. Nichols also added five officers to the department, and SPD has made strides in expanding camera systems around Starkville that are used to assist in investigations or monitor big events like Bulldog Bash.
But Nichols credited the work of his police department and the other city departments SPD works alongside. He said he hopes the main thing he leaves behind is a police force that serves the city with integrity.
"I just pray that I leave a legacy that's not anything personal -- it's my guys and the way they continue to serve this great city," he said.
Nichols also spoke to the steady growth Starkville has seen over the last several years. The city's population has increased from under 22,000 in 2000 to approximately 25,000 now, according to census data.
"Without a doubt, the biggest challenge is keeping up with the growth of the city, personnel-wise," Nichols said. "Currently, we're at least 15 officers behind the population. With the city continuing to grow and with the expectation of annexation -- the police department needs to grow with the city, and I don't think we're doing that right now.
"Of course with growth of the city comes more crime," he added. "We have to be able to keep up with that to properly serve the city."
SPD has 60 full-time officers with an additional three part-time officers.
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins said he regretted having to see Nichols leave, but thanked him for his service to the city. He also asked Nichols to consider any recommendation he might make to the board for the police department prior to his departure.
"You have a very vast amount of knowledge, expertise and experience and I do not want to be left here with the decision making not having any recommendation from you prior to leaving," Perkins said. "I certainly like to be equipped with whatever further knowledge I may (have) so I, hopefully, and I think the rest of the board, can make the decisions that would promote the best interest of the city of Starkville."
Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn also lauded Nichols for his time with the city.
"I just can't thank you enough for the time that we've been together," Vaughn said. "But thank you so much for your hard work and the time that you've contributed to this great city."
During the meeting, aldermen also set the first of two annexations public hearings for the next board meeting on June 18. The board will hold a second public hearing at the July 2 meeting, and will be able to decide on moving forward with implementing the city's annexation ordinance to annex land to the east.
The annexation is estimated to push Starkville's population to 27,146 people, based on 2010 census data for the target areas.
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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