Oak Bluffs police chief Jonathan Searle was sworn in Tuesday afternoon before a standing room-only crowd of family, friends and fellow police chiefs.

“Welcome to the town of Oak Bluffs,” town clerk Colleen Morris said as she formally swore in the new chief during Tuesday’s select board meeting in the Oak Bluffs town hall.

Mr. Searle's wife Denise Searle pinned his badge. — Aidan Pollard

Mr. Searle gave a teary-eyed speech to the crowd, thanking his family and his mother.

“To everyone here, I can’t say enough,” he said.

The select board also took a moment to recognize retired police chief Erik Blake, drawing a standing ovation.

“We’d like to honor you,” board member Gail Barmakian said.

Formerly a longtime Edgartown police sergeant, Chief Searle was chosen for the Oak Bluffs job last month after the select board had conducted a search and interview process.

In an interview with the Gazette later, he reflected on his life of public service that began in 1986.

“At the end of the day, we get all our power from the people,” he said. “And we are the people.”

On Tuesday when words temporarily failed the new chief following the ceremony, another extended standing ovation roared through the room.

“Everybody means something to me, and everyone knows what that means,” he told the gathering.