During the swearing-in ceremony for Paul Burkart, Nelson’s 21st police chief, Judge Don Sperry had him recite his oath of office before a packed courthouse.
“I, Paul Burkart, do solemnly swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second of Canada, and her heirs and successors, and I will to the best of my power cause the peace to be kept,” Burkart recited.
He went on, promising “I will faithfully, honestly and impartially perform my duties as municipal constable for the City of Nelson, British Columbia. So help me God.”
He then signed the oath, to a round of enthusiastic applause from representatives of city council, the RCMP and the Nelson Fire Department. Former Chief Ron Brock was also in attendance.
During the ceremony, Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak accepted current chief Wayne Holland’s relinquishment of command and handed a ceremonial tapestry to Burkart. Local vocalist Ashley Hall led everyone in singing “O Canada” and Rev. Jeff Donnelly offered his prayers and support.
“I accomplished what I came to do,” Holland said. “My legacy is written in stone and cannot and will not be undone.”
He quoted Shakespeare, who wrote “no legacy is as rich as honesty” and encouraged Burkart to live by those words. He told the officers there, who offered him their final salute, “I’ll never forget your efforts and your professionalism.”
Burkart is the 21st police chief for the department, which will celebrate its 120th year in existence next year. Holland called him “the whole package”, “smart as a whip” and said “he loves the Nelson community”.
Burkart’s daughters Julia and Kyra were there, as were Holland’s children Matt and Kelly. Their wives Eileen and Eve were also honoured with bouquets of flowers.
“Eileen and I are leaving Nelson with far more than we brought with us. Were leaving with an embarrassment of riches, in the form of fond memories, new as well as renewed friendships and most importantly a sense of accomplishment,” Holland said.
“But the very best thing I’ll be leaving with is the confidence and knowledge my successor will be Paul Burkart. I can think of no finer individual to assume the ranks and obligations of such a prestigious and yet highly challenging position.”
He told Burkart as chief he’ll “only be as good as the last decision you made.”
“Your reputation can be tarnished with one fateful step or inaction…”
At this point Holland paused in his speech, and smiled.
“No pressure, Paul.”