Sgt. First Class Tim Nichols, a lifelong resident of Pickens County, now serves as commander of the local State Patrol Post.
Tim Nichols, a Talking Rock native with 22 years of service with the Georgia State Patrol, took over as the commander of the State Patrol post in Jasper this January.
Sgt. First Class Nichols comes to this post after serving as commander of a 26-trooper unit of motorcycle officers who patrolled mostly busy interstate roads inside I-285 in Atlanta. Nichols commanded that detail since its creation in May 2006.
Prior to beginning work at the State Patrol in the mailroom. Nichols worked as a deputy at the Pickens Jail. He began work at the jail after graduating from Pickens High School in 1981.
Nichols said he did not grow up with the idea of being a policeman. "I didn't know what I would do,” said the lifelong Pickens resident. “When I was working at the jail, the troopers would come by, and I saw their level of professionalism and the uniformity. It didn't matter where you were, a trooper was a trooper."
During the 1980s when he was trying to join the State Patrol, entry level jobs were scarce, so, to get his foot in the door, Nichols took a job in the mailroom. His more than two-decade career with the Patrol started with mailing out drivers licenses for most of his day.
Since that first mailroom job and graduating Trooper school, Nichols has worked in different roles, including radio operator at Canton and as part of the Specialized Collision Reconstruction team. He has also served as assistant post commander for the Canton post. That was before moving to the motorcycle unit when it was created.
He had served as commander of the motorcycle post before taking the lateral transfer to the Jasper Post this year.
An avid motorcycle rider, Nichols said it was bittersweet coming here, as he hated leaving the motorcycle post, which he had led since its inception.
Nichols said he decided to take the opportunity when the opening came at the Jasper Post, a chance to work in his native county before retirement. He also expressed appreciation for the reduction in his daily commute which dropped to four miles round trip when he moved to the post here, located on Camp Road.
The Jasper post currently operates with nine troopers.
Nichols said the Jasper post will put emphasis on driver safety, specifically with attention to two lane roads and to proper installation and use of child safety seats.
"The State Patrol is putting a lot of emphasis on occupant safety––child restraint," he said. The local post will conduct regular safety inspections at the Walmart to see that child seats are properly installed. Nichols said troopers won't ticket anyone for not having a child seat properly installed if they come to the checks and may even have some child seats they can give away if needed. "Our goal is just to leave them safer that when we found them," he said.
Although the post, which covers both Pickens and Cherokee counties, has a long stretch of Highway 575/515 in its territory, Sgt. Nichols said the post will give a good deal of attention to two-lane roads in both counties. Even as the population of North Georgia has increased dramatically since Nichols served here as a deputy in the 1980s, he noted the roads are basically the same. The cars are faster, and people are driving faster as the lifestyle is more rushed, but they are on the same two-lane roads, he said.
"Along with the increase in population, people are not driving defensively. They are trying to make trips faster," he said. "People are in a hurry."
The higher speeds lead to wrecks with more serious injuries and damage, with Highway 515 seeing the most severe consequences of higher speeds. "People are always trying to make up time on their trip, and when they have a crash, you can see it [the speed] with the severity of the injuries," he said.
Nichols said the goal of the GSP is to get people to slow down and drive safer, not to generate revenue. All revenue generated from State Patrol tickets goes to the local government with jurisdiction over the location where a traffic stop occurred. There is no revenue incentive for State Patrol officers or posts to write tickets.
Nichols said troopers probably issue two-thirds to three-fourths more warnings than tickets. "We give a lot more warnings than tickets," he said.
"The biggest deterrent [to excessive speed] is being out there, being seen," he said. "This will get them to slow down and drive more defensively."
Tim has been married to his wife Rachel for 23 years and they have three school-aged daughters.