In many ways, Capt. Amy Nickoloff’s experience as an elementary school teacher and as an advanced emergency medical technician served as preparation for the calls she’d get as a patrol officer working for the Williston Police Department in the beginnings of the oil boom six years ago.
Along with the skills she’d learned as a first responder, Nickoloff relied on her understanding of young children to help little ones through the stress of witnessing police interact with and sometimes arrest their parents or other adults.
“Being an elementary school teacher is more like being a counselor and listening to the concerns the children bring from home,” she said. “(Police work) brought a new perspective for me, because I would go to these calls and I was able to pick up on how the children were reacting and make it easier on them.”
Nickoloff, 43, was promoted to captain last week after Capt. David Peterson was appointed as retiring Chief James Lokken’s successor. She is the first woman in the department to hold the title.
The position brings more supervisory duties, but Nickoloff, who already seems to spend most of her days handling several tasks at once, isn’t likely to spend much more time behind a desk.
“It will be a positive challenge,” she said. “I feel that there are many ways our department serves and protects our community, and I am very excited to be a part of that.”
Peterson, who promoted Nickoloff to second-in-command, said the decision was influenced by the work ethic she displayed while the two were working together as detectives.
“She has tremendous organizational skills, she has leadership characteristics that are a perfect match for the captain position and she believes dearly in our mission to serve and protect our community,” Peterson said.
Nickoloff, of Minnesota, was hired as a patrol officer in 2010 in Williston. She’d previously worked as a teacher for 10 years, then moved on to serving as an advanced EMT in Thief River Falls while going to school for nursing. The job was more exciting than a career as a registered nurse promised to be, but after her twin sister became a police officer, Nickoloff decided to do the same.
When her husband started looking for work in Williston, Nickoloff applied at the police department with immediate success.
“I was hired before I graduated (from law enforcement school),” she said.