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Tim Nicholas of Pinellas County, Florida Contests “Threat to Public Safety” Label

Tim Nicholas, a Pinellas County, Floirda resident and member of the Florida Highway Patrol, was forced to resign in May after an internal affairs investigation found him to be a “threat to public safety,” according to news reports. He is now speaking out about the dismissal, saying that he disgrees with some of its’ findings. It is not clear whether Nicholas plans on taking any legal action to contest the investigation’s findings, nor is it clear whether Nicholas, who was cited over the years for traffic and other violations, will be charged with any criminal offenses.

According to news reports, Nicholas has been in trouble with the Florida Highway Patrol on sevral different occasions. Two of the major reasons cited for his dismissal were reportedly an incident where he drove the wrong way on a highway and another incident where he allegedly unholstered his weapon ouside of a nursing school. The first violation of FHP policies, the wrong-way chase, reportedly took place on September 17, 2011 at approximately 4:00 a.m., while Nicholas was on duty. Nicholas had apparantly clocked a white sedan going 120 miles per hour in a strtch of 1-275 where the speed limit was 65 mph, and had attempted to pull the car over. The speeder, hower, kept going, and Nicholas pursued the vehicle as it’s headlights turned off and it exited the freeway at 38th Avenue North.

The wrong-way chase began when Nicholas pursued the speeder through a red light and into residential neigborhoods (at sppeds reached 73 mphs), then up a northbound exit ramp for I-275. The investigation determined that Nicholas went over 100 mph, driving the wrong way, for 1/8 of a mile. No one was hurt in the incident, and Nicholas heeded one of his commander’s orders to cease pursuit. The speeder ended up getting away.

Nicholas says that he was in control of the situation, press reports denote. “My mistake was going up the entrance ramp. I shouldn’t have done that… it was 4 o’clock in the morning. There was very little, if no, traffic on the roadway. The neighborhood — there was no traffic out. It was night, so you could see cross-traffic headlights. You can see in the dash cam video that there was no cross traffic.” Nicholas was apparantly able to get the tag for the car, but it turned out to be a rental and the driver was never apprehended.

Another instance that caused problems for Nicholas was one where he allegedly unholstered his duty weapon outside of Rasmussen College in New Port Richey, Florida. Several witnesses, includng a former police officer, alleged that Nicholas pulled out the gun as a joke. One of the witnesses, 19-year-old Samantha Shively, filed a complaint against Nicholas, alleging that after she had ceased to give Nicholas’ wife (who was a student at the school) rides to and from the school, the pair had been harassing her. “There’s no video evidence that I did the unholstering. There’s no photographic evidence that I did it. You’ve got the four students — plus me — who say I didn’t do it,” Nicholas was quoted as stating in regards to the allegations.

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