Police Chief Nichols leaves a proud, productive legacy

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Over the past 40 years, Boardman Township has matured into a leading hub of commerce and development in the Mahoning Valley.

Though many factors have fueled its growth, one often overlooked attribute has been the township’s relatively low rate of serious crime, which has made many people and businesses feel secure enough to invest and put down stakes there.

The Boardman Police Department can take credit for the starring role it’s played in ensuring a largely safe community from which residential and commercial development can flourish. A critical cog in the department throughout those past four decades has been the professionalism of Jack Nichols.

Nichols has served as patrol officer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and, for the past 81/2 years, as chief of the 60-officer strong department. As he approaches retirement next week, he leaves behind a legacy of which he and township residents can be proud.

He’s played a strong role in moving the department and the community forward. A brief rundown of some of his accomplishments during his tenure includes:

Playing a key role in the establishment of a new state-of-the-art countywide radio dispatching initiative.

Developing Boardman’s Care Call system, which gives senior citizens and residents with disabilities the option to request a daily safety call to their residence

Working with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to establish a prescription drug drop-off box for disposal of outdated medications

Increasing the number of resource officers in the Boardman schools with support from federal grants and cooperative agreements with the board of education.

Rebuilding the police department with the help of a community-supported police levy that facilitated the hiring of 15 additional police officers and the purchase of additional equipment to strengthen the presence of the police force.

PASSION FOR POLICE WORK

Throughout his tenure, whether patrolling in a cruiser through the 15 square miles of the township or sitting behind the chief’s desk brainstorming best practices for fighting the opiate epidemic’s impact on crime, Chief Nichols consistently put his heart and soul into protecting the 36,000 residents of the township and the tens of thousands of others who visit or work there daily.

Township trustees echo those sentiments.

Trustee Brad Calhoun reflected on Nichols’ long record of public service to the township thusly: “From everything I’ve seen, I can bet you that his passion for the job did not decrease from the time he was a patrol officer to the time he leaves as chief.”

“We all think the world of Jack,” said Trustee Tom Costello, adding, “He was the right person at the right time to be police chief of Boardman, Ohio, and an absolute gentleman who made you feel safe.”

In a commendable exit strategy, Nichols had the foresight to announce his retirement nearly one year early last February. As a result, township leaders were able to launch a wide-reaching search and appoint a promising new police chief in former FBI agent Todd Werth last summer.

In recent months, Werth has been able to gain valuable insights and guidance into department operations directly under the wing of Nichols.

Another strong suit of Nichols’ throughout his tenure has been his humility. In a show of gratitude to the community at his retirement party earlier this month, Nichols said, ‘‘I should be saying ‘thank you’ to the police department and to the township and to the community.

“I didn’t give them great service – they gave me a great career.”

We join many others in the township in strongly disagreeing with Nichols’ grossly understated assessment of the quality of his service for the Mahoning Valley’s largest suburban community over the past 40 years.

We also join countless others in wishing him a pleasing, rewarding and well- deserved retirement.

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