FALMOUTH — On his first day as the new police chief, John Kilbride said it would be his mission to ensure that the officers working for him are “honest, respectful and compassionate” and that they serve the community “with valor and empathy.”

Kilbride takes over from former Chief Ed Tolan, who retired Dec. 14 after a 45-year career in law enforcement, the last 23 as the head of the Falmouth Police Department.

Kilbride, who has been with the department for 21 years, took the oath of office during a special ceremony Monday in Town Council chambers at Town Hall.

“I’m deeply honored to be selected as the seventh police chief for the Falmouth Police Department,” he said in prepared remarks. “As chief I take great pride in representing the incredible men and women of the department.”

Kilbride then promised to “work tirelessly to support, energize and lead the department in a progressive and professional direction.” He also said that “as your chief, we will not shy from controversy, we will embrace it.”

And, building on Tolan’s legacy, he said the Police Department would “continue to enhance our methods (in order) to protect those that can’t protect themselves.”

Kilbride joined the department in 1997 and was promoted first to sergeant and then lieutenant 10 years later. Several changes are planned for the command structure over the coming months, but for now, Kilbride will continue his lieutenant duties.

Reached Tuesday, Kilbride said it had already been a busy two days as chief, especially because of Monday’s snowstorm. But, he added, “I have a lot of initiatives I want to do and I’ve got a lot of ideas. I’m just excited to get going.”

Although he’s known that he would be taking over as chief since mid-September, Kilbride said the actual swearing-in ceremony “was very meaningful. It was a passing of the torch. Being chief is a very important job that I take seriously.”

In announcing the choice of Kilbride as Falmouth’s next police chief this fall, Town Manager Nathan Poore said, “I know (he’s) the best choice … It will be exciting to see (him) lead the Falmouth Police Department.”

While much has changed, Kilbride said his commitment to being visible, available and responsive to the community has not.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or [email protected]. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Police Lt. John Kilbride is sworn in as Falmouth’s seventh chief of police during a special ceremony at Town Hall on Dec. 17. Town Clerk Ellen Planer administers the oath.