Derzis is the son of Peter Derzis, a U.S. Army intelligence officer and stockbroker, and his wife, Helen. He was born in Germany and spent his childhood in Arlington, Virginia before coming to Alabama at the age of 9. He earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice at Samford University and has also completed a law enforcement program at the FBI National Academy.
Derzis joined the Hoover Police Department in 1979. He became assistant chief in December 1999 and succeeded Bob Berry as chief in January 2005. He is a member of the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Metropolitan Criminal Justice Executive Association, the Law Enforcement Executive Development Association and the Board of Directors of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO). That organization's "Chief Nicholas C. Derzis Safe Schools Leadership Award" is named in his honor.
- Adnerson, Jon (March 3, 2014) "Fiancee of Hoover police Chief Nick Derzis: 'I never attacked Nick with a hammer'." The Birmingham News
- Anderson, Jon (August 2, 2017) "National school resource officer group names award after Hoover Chief Nick Derzis." 280 Living