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Cooperstown Police Chief, the first female officer in the village, departing at week's end

By JOLEEN FERRIS

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (WKTV) - Diana Nicols made history in the Cooperstown Police Department, but as of Friday, January 20, she'll be history.

It's a departure that's more bitter than sweet for the 40-year-old, who became the department's first female officer and went on the become the first female chief in 2005.

"I applied two years ago, and that was at a time when we didn't think there was anything more we could do with the knee," Nicols said. "But in November, I went and saw a new knee doctor who thinks he could fix this. So I was a little surprised to get this letter at this time."

Nicols applied for early retirement due to her disabling injury, but recently started seeing the same doctor who treats the NY Giants football team and he's given her hope that he can do what other doctors before him could not - fix her knee.

Nicols hurt her knee during a training exercise in 2008. She can't run, squat, kneel, crawl or climb; not acceptable limitations in a small department where the chief routinely goes out on calls. She was hoping to be able to give another surgery a chance, but says that New York State Retirement told the village they have until the January 22 to get her off the books.

Nicols says among the achievements of which she is most proud is helping complete 120 of the 130 standards required for accreditation, which she's confident the department is on the cusp of securing. She says it's not the major crimes she'll remember, like the racially charged shooting of a young man in the police station in 2010. Nicols says she'll remember the woman who approached her while she was on a bench on Main Street with her family.

"She reminded me that I helped her with a domestic situation a few years earlier," Nicols said. "She had a broken orbital socket and broken jaw and she was in a very bad situation and I didn't remember, but she wanted to say thanks, that I really made an impact on her life."

Nicols says that it's moments like that one that remind her what a rare and precious opportunity her job as Cooperstown Police Chief has afforded her.

"Probably in this job, there is no way you can get through this without touching people," Nicols said. "And if you do it right, you can have a chance to help somebody every day. So there's no job like that in the world. This is it."

The 40-year-old isn't sure what the future holds past Friday, but is pretty sure that traditional retirement won't be involved.

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