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Video: Fla. Trooper Resigns After 100 mph Wrong Way Pursuit

June 21, 2012  | 

VIDEO: Fla. Trooper's 100 mph Wrong Way Pursuit

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper resigned to avoid termination after an internal investigation found he had violated numerous agency policies during a wrong-way pursuit on a Pinellas County interstate.

Trooper Tim Nichols "posed a threat to public safety," according to the investigation as reported by Bay News 9.

The pursuit began at 4 a.m. on Sept. 17, 2011, after Nichols clocked a white car speeding at 120 mph in a 65 mph zone heading south on I-275 in St. Petersburg.

After the violator exited at 38th Ave. N., Nichols continued to pursue the car through a residential neighborhood. The chase reached speeds of 73 mph on narrow streets and the trooper ran eight stop signs. Nichols then followed the car south on a northbound exit ramp at I-275 and 22nd Ave. N. A commander then ordered Nichols to halt the pursuit.

The investigation also found that Nichols unholstered his weapon around a group of nurses.

Tags: Florida Highway Patrol, Officer Misconduct, Vehicle Pursuits


Comments (17)

Displaying 1 - 17 of 17

Jeff Sanborn @ 6/21/2012 6:46 PM

Typical department bullshit. Officer tries to do his job and is expected to do his job and the department runs with their tails between their legs because they are afraid of lawsuits and being yelled at by the public. Makes a person want to jump right out and do the job HUH!!!

Ron reynolds @ 6/21/2012 7:07 PM

whoever you are sanborn, and I doubt if you are on the job, you need to go back to sleep or whatever you were doing that caused you to have a thought. his (the troopers) job is not to endanger himself and all the other people on the road because he isn't aware enough to terminate what sounds like an unreasonable pursuit. sometimes you have to be able to step back and do the right thing all by your big self. he's just lucky it ended the way it did and not with someone hurt or worse with him to blame.

George @ 6/21/2012 8:34 PM

This occurred at 4 a.m. and is minus some other details that would enhance clarity of this issue. Reynolds, you are correct in your basic SOP but without all information surrounding this issue it would seem hard pressed to justify TERMINATION of a good or potentially good Trooper. They cost a lot of money to train. 30+ years (retired) of LE experience tells me there is much more to the big picture.

WestCoastLEO @ 6/21/2012 10:00 PM

Questions, after the pursuit ended, what was the violater booked for? Why did He/She run? Let us just say that the crook shot someone, kidnapped a person, was a wanted felon, was the killer of the police chief's daugnter, the mayor's daughter or was wanted for the murder of Obama. Would have he been fired? Catching crooks is a dangerous job to the public and to the officers. But the job gets done. The people who give us this job expect us to save them, but they want us fired when we do it. The world of law enforcement is upside down and I blame the people of this country for it. Too bad that trooper did not call in sick that day and that crook didn't crash into Sanborn's family. From an active WestCoast LEO supervisor for 32.6 years

WestCoastLEO @ 6/21/2012 10:24 PM

SANBORN,,,I'm SORRY,,,, I ment REYNOLDS... You are a typical admin poser who may have only used your handcuffs once in the academy.

michael @ 6/21/2012 11:36 PM

This is a normal response from Administrators these days. I have been in situations like this and I can understand the officers response as well. However, I don't think I would have pursued the suspect for just a traffic violation in that manner all over the place. I also don't think it would have justified termination by his dept. either. Adrenaline can make us do stupid things sometimes. I think departments are way too fast on the termination button.

Bradley @ 6/21/2012 11:47 PM

There's obviously a lot missing from this article. Did anyone else notice the last sentence, where it says he was also found to have I holstered his weapon around a group of nurses? Sounds like the pursuit wasn't his only policy violation. And yes, it matters what he was chasing the guy for. Brake light out? Not worth it. Stole my sandwich? Chase him 'till the wheels fall off!

Bradley @ 6/21/2012 11:50 PM

"unholstered" Stupid spell check got me.

McBride @ 6/22/2012 4:58 AM

The chase reflex can be strong. Thats why we have supervisors monitoring. they can toug on the leash anythime they want to end the chase. Chasing this guy in this manner just for speeding would be a hard one to justify. Chances are they committed larger crimes, the officer just didn't know what they were at the time. It was 4 am. He wasn't sleeping or goofing off some where. thats a good thing. Termination seems harsh for this incident. What happened to progressive discipline? This officer may have a history and his threatened termination has little to do with the chase.

LT. @ 6/22/2012 5:11 AM

i think what is missing is this troopers prior history. i will bet this is not his first policy violation. I have been front line cop, a sergeant and a lieutenant. and in my 16 years i can say policing has changed and unfortunatley we being the police havent change as fast. when i started the job we would chase till the wheels came off. but that has changed. the cowboy way of doing things is just not practical or safe today. i have burried friends who were just doing there job, if we can prevent this or find a better way of doing things to keep us safe and the public safe then we should do. sanborn sounds bitter and should find another line of work, this is public safety and ultimatley they are our boss whether we like it or not. i cant understand the mentalility of cops who hate their job and complain all the time about how bad it is and nobody understands. then quit this profession cause your heads no in the game and you may wind up killing yourself or somebody else. "The world needs ditch diggers too danny"

Lada Boi @ 6/22/2012 6:14 AM

Some very excellent comments from both the line and the management which indicates a very slippery slope to this issue. If the driver was ramming peds and veh icles he or she passed, that MAY justify continuing the pursuit. Short of that, management MUST look at the possible consequences of a pursuit related high-speed crash by either the pursuer or pursuee versus the potential benefits of stopping someone who may be simply trying to flee without causing further harm than whatever crime or infraction precipitated the action. Also, what real chance did the lone trooper have of stopping the vehicle?

Greg @ 6/22/2012 6:59 AM

Here's some highlights of the news story-

The investigation concluded Nichols violated FHP policy as he drove the wrong way on Interstate 275 in a chase of a suspect and unholstered his gun outside a classroom of nursing students, according to the dismissal letter. He appealed the dismissal and was allowed to resign in May.

Nichols made national headlines in 2010 when Bay News 9 first aired dash cam video showing the trooper shooting nine rounds at a fleeing sandwich thief in a Palm Harbor nursing home parking lot during Oct. 2009. Nichols was suspended for 40 hours after the shooting for "careless use of a weapon."

One of Nichols' most serious policy violations was driving the wrong way on the Pinellas County interstate Sept. 17, 2011. "My mistake was going up the entrance ramp," Nichols said. "I shouldn’t have done that."

Experts did find Nichols violated FHP policy by visiting unauthorized websites.

The investigation also revealed Nichols drove his wife to and from school in his FHP cruiser on several occasions.

Nichols said it was only a couple of times because their personal car had been repossessed and they were in a jam when Shively stopped giving his wife a ride.

Shively told investigators she witnessed Nichols run a fellow classmate on his Driver and Vehicle Information Database, known as DAVID, inside his Pasco County home. "They typed in a fellow classmates’ name and looked it up," Shively said. "They were making fun of her picture.”

Shively also tipped off investigators that Jessica Nichols told her of a box full of confiscated driver's licenses and identification cards in a closet in their home. Nichols turned over 387 cards he kept since 2002. Nichols said he kept the cards because he didn't want the Department of Motor Vehicles to simply throw personal information in the trash. He said he didn't realize he was violating policy.

JimA @ 6/22/2012 7:01 AM

Missing details! And OH MY GOD! Making a big deal out of unholstering his weapon near a group of nurses?! Where it seems like a capital offense to the writer of the story, I say it is not even worth mentioning!

JimA

Robocop @ 6/22/2012 8:48 AM

This chase WAS unreasonably dangerous to both the Trooper and the General Public. Remember we are supposed to protect them, not endanger them. Yes it would matter why they were chasing him but short of this person being known to murder someone and be a threat to kill again then the Trooper should have terminated the chase. Sounds like he needs to grow up a little. Termination, I don't know as I am not privy to his records but I am not going to second guess his supervisors.

TX Sgt @ 6/22/2012 10:45 AM

I don't care how you couch it, or the length of your leo service, you can not justify this trooper's actions. The fact that the dearth of information we are subsequently relegated to rely upon leaves much to be desired is irrelevant; there is never a reason to jeopardize other's lives in the vehicle pursuit of a suspect. Period. Notwithstanding, I respect all the previously stated opinions on the matter. Be safe.

Bob @ 6/25/2012 8:18 AM

Nichols was a loose cannon. If you read the linked article, you'd find that in a previous incident, he fired nine rounds at someone for stealing a sandwich at a senior center. He had repeated violations of obvious department policies, like keeping a collection of confiscated licenses and using their license database for personal reasons. Now he conducts a reckless chase that jeopardized civilians, driving 73 mph through residential streets, running eight stop signs, and traveling at over 100 mph the wrong way down an interstate. Only by God's grace did he not kill civilians through his reckless behavior. His immanent firing wasn't about law suits or administrivia, but about protecting the public from a rampant cowboy. Nichols has repeatedly shown incredibly poor judgment and has no business wearing a badge.

CHGO FIVE OH @ 6/27/2012 5:06 AM

Seems that without the whole story we can not reach the justified conclusion. Yes, although it is tragic that thie Trooper resigned rather than be terminated we have to consoder all the facts. Prior history which in my book would include previous incidents. Now Im not a supervisor but, to address the remark that "reynolds" made, I do believe that you must be one of the goldren children that was born with a nickel plated spoon in your mouth. You must be the future of Law Enforcement across the USA............What a SHAME! Go back to your little desk and try to figure out a clever way to bring back the "REAL POLICE"!

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