Somer Oberlin: Just Call Her "Chief" - TribPapers

Somer Oberlin: Just Call Her “Chief”

Chief Somer Oberlin was sworn in on April 1, last week. Photo by Paul King

Weaverville – Town residents, council members, friends, and family, along with other law enforcement personnel, gathered at the Weaverville Town Hall Community Center to support Weaverville’s first woman police chief as she was sworn into office.

Somer Oberlin, now to be known as just ‘Chief,’ took her oath of office in front of about 80-plus people on Monday, April 1. The ceremony got underway with Weaverville Town Manager Selena Coffey calling the event to order and asking town resident Jennifer Young to open in prayer. Young called Oberlin up, and as she read some scripture, praying as she held Oberlin’s hand, she asked for God’s blessings on Oberlin’s administration of law and justice, as well as peace for the town.

Afterward, Coffey recognized elected officials, the members of the police department, the retired Weaverville Police Chief Ron Davis, and finally, Oberlin’s family. “While today is a special day as we celebrate the swearing-in of Chief Oberlin, Chief Oberlin is no stranger to us. I will remind us all, including myself, that because she is no stranger to us, it’s going to be difficult for us to switch from Somer to Chief. I would encourage us to do that, though, because her position is one of respect, and you should be led to call her chief.”

Coffey then recounted Oberlin’s climb to the top, beginning back in 2014 as a patrol officer with the department and working her way up through the ranks. “Today is a day you will never forget,” said Coffey to Oberlin. “So I encourage you to be fully present. I believe you were born to lead.” She then recognized Oberlin’s characteristics, including compassion, courage, and introspection. In closing, Coffey said it is a privilege to work beside Oberlin and to appoint her the new chief,” a comment that received a round of applause. 

Next, former Chief Davis spoke, beginning with an antidote about the first America’s Cup. The queen of England attended, and when the only American yacht finished first, the queen asked who came in second. Her servant said, “Your majesty, there’s no second.” Choking back tears at the time, he went on to talk about when he first met Oberlin and her interactions with him and others. “Every day, I saw devotion, professionalism, dedication, kindness, and compassion, and not once did she offer an excuse, and not once did she accept one. Simply put, she is the embodiment of an American success story.” He ended with, “In my opinion, the town manager didn’t make an excellent choice. She made the perfect choice.” Paraphrasing what was said to the queen, “Your majesty, there’s no second because no one is even close to Somer Oberlin,” Davis’ opinion was supported as the audience gave another round of applause. 

Oberlin was then sworn in as chief as Amy Buchanan came to administer the oath as Oberlin’s husband; Matt held a family Bible, which she placed her hand on to swear on. Matt then pinned his wife with the chief’s badge, and another wave of applause was given. 

Oberlin then took to the podium to address those gathered, saying, “As I stand before you, I am filled with the deepest sense of appreciation for the journey that has led me to this moment. But no journey is traversed alone; it is with profound humility that I extend my thanks to those who have been instrumental in shaping my path. I will call you difference-makers.” As she continued, she thanked mentors, friends, and co-workers, as well as family, for their support. She ended with thanking everyone there for being part of this special day.” Oberlin’s oration was received with a standing ovation.

After the ceremony, refreshments were served to guests as people congratulated Oberlin on her new position.