“You can't do this job alone — policing is about community,” declared Steve Nichols, retired Buffalo Police Captain.
Nichols says after 23-years on the Buffalo Police force, he felt like it was a good time to retire and let someone new step in as director of community relations.
Nichols says he poured his heart into the job seven days a week, working hand-in-hand with many inner-city groups.
“It’s actually kind of been a selfish job in a way,” remarked Nichols. “The feelings that it's giving me have more than paid for the hour sand days I put into it.”
Nichols made a lasting impact, especially in Buffalo's Black, Brown and immigrant communities by building partnerships and relationships.
As law enforcement faces tough scrutiny for police reforms — the leader of the Stop the Violence Coalition says he wishes he could bottle captain Nichols attitude.
“Captain Nichols hot sauce,” laughed Murray Holman. “We could sell that.”
Holman is executive director of Stop the Violence and is with the Buffalo Peacemakers.
I asked Holman how a white police captain was able to connect so well in his community.
“He’s not white — he's just a police officer — with no color — he goes across the board,” replied Holman. “He just don’t look at color — he does a great job at his job and negotiating with people.”
But just days after retiring, Nichols says he's not giving up on his relationships.
Nichols was back out in the community late Tuesday afternoon helping Stop the Violence pass out handmade blankets on Genesee Street and Kilhoffer in Buffalo, the scene of homicide and deadly car crash.
“I wish we had more officers like him, but hopefully he can go and train — go to the academy and tell them about what he's doing,” Holman said.
“I think we need to be held accountable and I think we are being held accountable,” Nichols responded.
Buffalo Mayor Byron brown said Nichols “epitomizes what community policing is all about.”
“Community policing is just a way of empowering the community to share in the responsibility of keeping our community safe,” Nichols stated.
“The advice he gives is tremendous and he takes advice as well — you know suggestions come out of me that he takes and says that’s a great idea,” Holman reflected.
Mayor Brown married Nichols and his wife in 2017. Nichols said his wife is happy he will have more time at home.
“My wife's got a million projects for me already from ten minutes after I retired — I had a list,” Nichols joked.
But Nichols still plans to keep a pulse on a community he loves.
“I want to keep that going — I love bringing people together to do things and I’ll never give that up,” Nichols responded.