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Fantino says city police service was well served

Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino paid tribute to his friend George Berrigan Friday at the change of command ceremony.

Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino paid tribute to his friend George Berrigan Friday at the change of command ceremony.

Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino says the North Bay Police Service has been “exceptionally” well served by George Berrigan and will continue to be by his successor new police chief Paul Cook.

Fantino was the keynote speaker for the North Bay Police Services Board change of command ceremony Friday at the Royal Canadian Legion.

“George Berrigan is a close personal friend of mine, a person I highly respect, and, of course knowing Chief Berrigan you get to know Chief Cook as well, so I think they are just wonderful people,” Fantino said, "and the North Bay Police Service has been well served, exceptionally well served, by Chief Berrigan and is going continue to be by Paul Cook as the new chief.”

Fantino spoke about the importance of commitment, dedication and transparency "in policing the communities we serve."

The undertone of the speech spoke of problems both the Toronto and North Bay services have encountered over the past few weeks.

Very proud day
But even with the strife of the internal investigations and findings at NBPS headquarters, the people at the ceremony were there to celebrate Berrigan's 30 year police career, and spoke highly of him and his performance.

None did more so than his son Ryan, a member of the Peel Regional Police Service.

“It’s a very proud day, to think he’s got the respect of all the people he has worked with and that says a lot about him over the years, and as a family we are very proud," Berrigan told

"It’s a very happy day.”

Learned lots from him
When asked about his own role as a police officer the constable gave credit to the senior Berrigan as being one of his inspirations to enter the field.

“He’s been a role model my entire life and continues to be to this day, and I know that if ever I have any issues or questions he’s always there for me and is very supportive, I’ve learned lots from him and continue to learn from him today.”

Living the job through Ryan
The pride is mutual, George Berrigan said, adding he's "honoured" and proud of his son’s accomplishments. Although full of emotion about his departure into a civilian lifestyle, he will never be far from the job.

"I’ll keep living the job through Ryan, Berrigan said.

"I'm always interested in hearing his stories, of the front line policing stories because he’s policing in one of the most diverse communities in Canada.”

A 30 year Career
Berrigan said it's "tough" to condense over 30 years in to a one or two sentences.

"It’s been very bountiful for both myself and my family, and I'm lucky to have become a police officer, very fortunate,” Berrigan said when summing up his career.

He remembered his first day as an officer with the Toronto Police Service, where he spent a short period of time before joining North Bay.

“I was terrified, terrified," Berrigan said.

"It was downtown Toronto and I was terrified.”

Fundamental values
Not knowing that first day on the job would eventually lead to the post of chief Berrigan realized his work ethic would help him become a successful cop.

“I was always dedicated, I had the fundamental values of policing and I know that has to take you some place," Berrigan said.

"I was not ambitious, I was dedicated. And there’s a difference: dedication pays off and ambition doesn’t.”

North Bay is in good hands
With the knowledge his police career has ended, and that it's time to move on, Berrigan said he leaves knowing his shoes have been filled by a worthy successor.

“I’m very happy the board appointed Paul Cook," Berrigan said.

"I think the board is in good stead for the future, very pleased with him, and things couldn’t be any better. He’s a strong community person and he brings a lot to the table.”